No More Empty Fortune Cookies!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Does This Cane Make Me Look Blind?

What does gay look like? What does blind look like?

Apparently I don't look like either one. Upon discovering the fact that I am gay, people often say to me, "But you don't look gay." As if gay has only one look. Am I supposed to wear flannel and work boots? Am I supposed to have a wallet hanging from a chain in my back pocket? Is that the only way gay is supposed to look for women? I really thought that I was unfashionable enough to fit the old lesbian stereotype.
I guess I'll have to try harder.

I get a lot of those "but you don't look..." Like, for instance, Mexican. I have, on more than one occasion, had to show a picture of my mom before someone would believe that I really am half Mexican. My teachers used to say I didn't look like I was paying attention, even though I could recite back to them everything they had said, verbatim. But last night's "you don't look..." made me literally (and I do mean actually literally, not "literally" in the abstract, hipster way the kids use that term to mean some figurative, but not literal idea today) laughed out loud.

The Wifester and I were shopping at the grocery store. I went down one aisle while she went down another. I was meeting back up with her at a preassigned spot, as we tend to do. I was en-route to said spot when a man stopped me and asked me, while pointing at the tip of my cane, "What's that roller thing for?"
Although I was in a bit of a hurry to get out of there because The Wifester's mom was expected at our house pretty soon, I stopped and explained, "Well, it rolls smoothly across surfaces and makes it easier for me to feel cracks in the cement, and find curbs and other bumps on the ground."

The poor guy got the funniest, most perplexed look on his face, then he said, "You aren't blind are you?" When asked about my sight I usually take the opportunity to explain all about my tunnel vision and RP and how I can see pretty clearly through my little window of vision, but nothing outside of that window yadda, yadda, yadda...But as I said, I was in a bit of a hurry, and sometimes I just don't feel much like being an educator, so I simply said, "Yes, yes I am."

Looking even more perplexed, he stood there for a moment, mouth open, staring at me, then he said it, "Well, you don't look blind! You really don't!"

Blind, Mexican, gay...of all the things I don't look, but am, I wish fat was one of them!

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Plan

It's been over three years since that doctor placed his hand on my back and said, "You have maybe 5-10 years left with your sight. Travel. See what you can see now. Don't wait. And don't let anything stop you."
In that time I have come to accept that what he said is true, and that my time left for seeing the world around me is greatly shortened. I've found a lot of others who have this retinitis pigmentosa, or RP as we call it, and have formed a bit of a camaraderie with them. We are all navigating this path of vision loss and ensuing blindness together. Some of them are further down the path than I am, others have not yet made it to where I stand. Collectively, we draw on the experience, strength, and hope of each other.
In talking with, chatting with, facebooking with these good people, I've found that we are quite an interesting and diverse group. From housewives to physicians, from gardeners to engineers, and from artists to I.T. professionals...we span every demographic imaginable. And it occurred to me, these people have stories.
We do.
We have stories of how we came to accept or in some cases detest our vision loss, of how we managed to cope in a world that does not understand vision loss, how we reinvented ourselves to accommodate our vision loss, and how we found each other through modern technology and social media.
And then it occurred to me that someone needs to tell these stories.
Route 66 img
photo courtesy By Vítězslav Válka ( [CC-BY-SA-3.0-cz (], via Wikimedia Commons

So here's my plan.
Over the next year, I'd like to gather enough funds to be able to take a cross-country journey via RV with The Wifester and Sally Sue. I can kill two birds with one stone, so to speak: I can see this country like I've always dreamed of, and I can meet some of these wonderfully interesting people who share this experience of RP. The Wifester can take photos of our journey, because if you've spent much time around this blog you already know that she is quite the brilliant photographer. I can live blog my adventure, so you can follow me as I have this experience. And in the end, I'll produce a book of my journey and of the stories of the folks that I met along the way. Plus, I get the opportunity to paint landscapes in the desert like I've dreamed of for years and years. And The Wifester and I get to see this great country of ours together.

That's the plan, anyways. I'm still in the very early planning stages, but I think I have to do this. I need the journey, and these people's stories need to be told. 

*If you are one of my fellow RP'ers, and you would like a visit from The Wifester, Sally Sue, and I, please contact me either via this blog or via facebook, and we'll talk about the plan.