Tactile

The sense I use the most to explore the world is touch. I’m an extremely tactile person. Getting the feel of things is how I comprehend them.

I suspect that most people think that I fidget too much. While I’m listening to others, my hands are often in motion. If there’s anything slippery or soft or oddly shaped in my presence, I’m petting it like a pedigree cat. If I’m wearing clothing with complex stitching, I’m tracing its contours, over and over and over again.

I pet my dog so much that I’m amazed he has any fur left on his body. He seems to like it, though. At least, he keeps coming back for more. (I can’t imagine owning a Mexican Hairless, but I’m dying to know what one feels like.)

I don’t mind navigating dark spaces if I’m familiar with them, because my hands and feet tell me where I am. If I were to go blind, I might be upset, but I’d quickly adapt. (I would like to know how touching someone’s face helps a blind person visualize it, but it’s not like I can walk up to people and ask to touch their faces.)

If I’m told not to touch something, it drives me absolutely nuts. I become obsessed. What does that thing feel like? I have to know! Fortunately, my desire to follow the rules is stronger than my desire to inspect. Usually. So the Mona Lisa would be safe with me. Probably.

I absolutely love holding my husband’s hand. I adore sincere hugs. I love baths because they feel like full body hugs. Walking barefoot seems like the ultimate luxury to me.

Am I weird, or is this normal? Does this resonate with you, dear reader? If it does, I’d like to shake your hand.

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Be My Eyes

I never thought I’d say this, but for the first time in my life, I really, really wish I had an iPhone. I’ve managed to avoid jumping on that bandwagon all this time, in spite of the fact that people often look at me funny when I tell them I can’t access the internet on my phone, and while it is capable of taking photos (I’m not that far out of the loop), it can’t send them to anyone.

The thing that has finally given me iPhone envy is this app that I heard about just today, called Be My Eyes. It connects sighted volunteers with blind and low vision people who need some momentary assistance. Given that there are about 14 volunteers currently signed up for the app for every blind person who has signed up for it, the gentleman whom I heard talking about it says he gets a call about once a month.

These calls can be something random, like, “Can you tell me if this milk has expired?” or “Is this tie green or red?” or “How many eggs does this recipe call for?”

I think this is a wonderful way to give a helping hand to someone in need. It would be great for homebound individuals, for example. They could feel as though they were contributing to the wider world. A great way to battle loneliness is to make a difference for someone else.

This app is one of those delightful inventions that makes you wonder why no one has thought of it before. If you have an iPhone and any time at all, I encourage you to volunteer. And if you do, I’d love it if you shared your experiences below.

P.S. Since I posted this this morning, several readers have pointed out that the app also works on Android. So those of you with fancier phones than mine really have no excuse!

 

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I’ll Take Love with Conditions

I think unconditional love is an absurd construct. Even my dog has his limits. If I stopped feeding him or started torturing him, how much do you think he would love me then?

While it’s comforting to think that there is love that you can count on, I believe that the responsibility for maintaining that bond goes both ways. Frankly, I’d find it rather creepy if someone loved me so unconditionally that I could become a monster and that person would be okay with that. I do not want someone loving me even if I decide to be a serial killer. I expect to be held accountable for my actions.

I was once in a 16-year relationship with someone who enjoyed saying, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” I knew he was attempting to be reassuring, but in truth that always made me inwardly shudder. I don’t want blind adoration. I actually kind of feel better when there are well-defined boundaries. When I know where I stand, I can do so with confidence. That, and there’s a great deal of pressure to maintain your center of decency when, literally, anything goes. (I admit I didn’t handle it well.)

Parents are expected to love their children unconditionally. I can’t really speak from experience, as I chose not to have kids, but I suspect that “unconditional” condition is the very source of a great deal of dysfunction. If “unconditional” were taken off the table, more parents would be invested in instilling values in their children that would encourage them to be decent human beings, because it’s safe to assume that most parents really do want to love their children.

If we stopped looking at love as if it were a possession, as if, once obtained, you get to keep it, a lot of things would change. If people genuinely believed that one must be loving and lovable in order to receive love, this would be a kinder, gentler planet. If we knew that love must be earned, fewer people would remain with their abusers. If we set the bar ever-so-slightly higher when choosing a mate, it would make for much healthier family units. And if we looked at love as something that must constantly be nurtured in order to thrive, we wouldn’t be so shocked and devastated when it withers on the vine due to our own neglect.

It might also allow us to exercise critical thinking. This whole blind loyalty thing that is becoming the cultural norm is actually rather terrifying. If you vote for someone whose behavior becomes more despicable over time, your FIRST instinct should be a withdrawal of political love for that person. Your standards should be high, and your tolerance for outrage should be short-lived. Our leaders should be kept in check, as their powers allow for rather more destruction than most of us can endure.

So, dear reader, be loving. Be kind. And remember that it’s okay to set boundaries.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

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My New Specs

I got new glasses recently. For me, this is a big deal. I’ve been wearing glasses since I was 3 years old. I’m blind as a bat without them. And I’m so used to wearing them that I feel quite vulnerable and exposed when I take them off.

This time I decided to go bold. These are “in your face” glasses (pun intended). These glasses say, “Heck yeah, I rely on a facial prosthetic. You got a problem with that? I’m blind and I’m proud!”

When I went to the optometrist to pick them up, I was in line behind the most obnoxious woman on earth. She was young. She was skinny. She was blonde. She spoke with a vocal fry. And every statement came out in the form of a question.

“So I told my boyfriend the other day that I had broken my glasses? And he was, like, really disappointed? Because he loves the way I look in these glasses? So I was hoping to get some that look kind of the same? But not totally the same? Because I need a change? And before I decide which ones, I told him I’d take selfies and send them to him? That way he could help me choose?”

Kindly stick a screw driver in my ear. I was glad to get my glasses and get out of there.

So, I’ve been telling people I have new specs. That’s short for spectacles, of course. Which are glasses, but also another word for a performance or event. So, do I have to act out, or act up, now? This is too much pressure for my introverted self! But it’s probably what’s needed in these trying times.

Specs is also short for specifications. A standard of workmanship. If I have new specs, I hope they’re better ones. I hope I’m going to be a new, improved, stronger and even nastier me in 2017. That would be good.

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