Sunday, December 17


Greetings. I’ve been in a reflective mood this weekend, so as a result, this will be a reflective post. This will probably be my big annual look back post for 2006, so sit back and enjoy.

Its been quite a year. A lot has happened this year. Before I go over some of the highlights, or as I call them “snap shots,” for 2006 let’s rewind a little.

On November 1, 2005, the board of directors at the United Cerebral Palsy Association in Dallas, decided to close the agency that I was working at, and within a matter of a few days, everyone was laid off and in essence, locked out. On November 14 of 2005, I traveled to Austin for my big interview and demonstration for the technology instructor position. On December 15, I was given an offer which I gratefully accepted, and all of a sudden, I was employed again!

Now, for this year: in early January, my parents and I drove down to Austin to go apartment hunting. On January 20, we moved all of my stuff into my new apartment. And, on February 1, I started my new job at the state training center as a tech instructor.

I’ve thought about those dates often in the past month or so, thinking what happened on this or that day at certain times or where I was, and considering what I’m doing now. The new job of course, is perhaps the biggest highlight of this past year, and the one that most of the other highlights are tied to in some form or another.

Some other snap shots include the following, in no particular order: my time in immersion, or blindfold training; going tubing on the San Marcus river with other students and staff; the Louis Braille birthday party we had last February and hearing the center’s director do a Braille rap; the 2006 NFB convention in Dallas; observing and in the latter part of May, even co-teaching classes with another instructor; getting my own keyboarding class back in late March or early April; getting my first Windows class in August, and continuing to teach Windows until now; and more. I remember going to my first few meetings with a student, their counselor, and other staff, and how nervous I was the first few times when it came time to give my report. I’m better now, sort of, but I still get nervous from time to time, especially when I have to take someone out of a class. I hate denying anyone the opportunity to learn technology. I remember all the talks I’ve had with staff in the tech department about different topics, some relating to technology and students and some not so much. I remember the times I called some staff after hours, especially early on, when I wanted to ask them something or was worried about a particular situation. I remember back in April, when I went over to Geoff’s apartment to use his elliptical, and ended up talking with him for another couple of hours after the 15 minutes of doing exercises.

I remember going to pay my own taxes in April, and having the tax preparation person tell me when I was leaving, “See you next year.”

Though its not a pleasant thing to think about, considering how things ended, I remember Tony, my former guide dog. I enjoyed having Tony here with me from when we moved down to September 1 when he died. I remember when I was moving into the apartment, Tony was going around to the various parts of the place, checking things out, laying down in different spots, and then getting up to move on to another spot to try. My Mother reported at one point that Tony was in the closet and you could see only his head sticking out. I remember how Tony always greeted me when I came home from work. I always left the TV on for him, though he never did tell me what he learned from watching or listening to the different shows. He learned a lot though, since he watched Biography and the Texas Cable News channels. I remember getting Kathi to take care of Tony when I was in Dallas. I remember taking him over to her house, and letting him explore her backyard, which he did about 3 different times before he was satisfied. And, though its sad to think about, I remember that day—the day that Tony left me. Even over three months removed, I can still see how everything seemed to fit together that day, so that I was never alone for very long. Whether I was on the bus coming home, with Jack when we raced to the vet and later went to lunch, sitting in my apartment with my music going in the background, or talking with some people on the phone about what had happened. One of the hardest things I had to do that day was tell my Mom what had happened when Jack and I were at lunch. Up until then I was feeling okay about things. I knew what happened of course, but to have to put it into words for someone else is something totally different. I also remember Jack asking me how I felt, and then saying, “Never mind,” when he saw the look on my face. And, along with those things, I remember my parents coming down for the weekend to be with me. That really helped. I still think of Tony often, and even have been dreaming about him once or twice a month or more, but that first weekend with my parents here really helped me get a lot of that emotion out.

I remember going home for Thanksgiving and how much of a rest and recharging event that was. I had not thought a lot about vacations up until that point. After those few days where I could sleep in and relax, well, suddenly vacations don’t look so bad. Perhaps I’ll even take one next year at some point.

I remember going to the graduations for students that I had taught before and feeling proud of what they had accomplished. As it happens, there’s another graduation this Wednesday where at least seven out of the 12 or so graduates were my students at one time or another. This is the first time that I’ve had such a connection with that many students in a graduation ceremony before. It will be good to see them achieve their final goal of graduating. However, it will also be sad to see them leave, but such is the routine of the rehabilitation system: a constantly revolving door of people coming and going. I have thought a lot in the last few months of what I will have to say in about 5 years of watching this revolving door, and remembering the students, the struggles, the high points, and so forth.

I’m sure that there are things I’m missing from 2006, but those are the things that come immediately to mind. Its truly been an interesting year. There’s one more connection with this year that is truly remarkable: 20 years ago, I lost my sight. True, the loss of a sense may not be remarkable in itself, but what would my parents, friends, teachers, and least of all, me, say if someone had told anyone of them that I would be teaching computers at a state training center and where I’d be now, if they were told this back in the fall of 1986? I can’t speak for all the others, but my response would probably be something like, “What???”

So, cheers for a great 2006 and an even better 2007. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours. Everyone stay safe, make resolutions that you might keep, and we’ll see you in January, where who knows what will happen.

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