Life in progress


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Random to the Ninth Degree

It’s been a while since I just rambled about my life in progress. Some of what I have to share has to do with my blog as well, since what is life without the Internet? Seriously.

  1. Yesterday I spent an hour trying to change the size of Alex’s Youtube movie on his screen, because he said it was too small. I tried the settings in his account, I tried the settings on the computer, I switched computers, I switched browsers … I even downloaded a new browser onto his laptop, all the while with him screaming in my ear and signing “fix it! It’s too small!” For an hour. All to discover he wasn’t having a meltdown over the size of the movie, but rather the brand new Youtube logo on the top left corner of the screen. Ah, the joys of living with a kid with OCD.
  2. Alex goes back to school on Tuesday!!! (To understand my excitement, see above.)
  3. I’m so busy with my new freelance editing business, I need a schedule to fit everyone in.
  4.  It cost me $73 the other day for the dentist to look at my sore gums and tell me I need to rinse my mouth with salt water for a week. I suppose it could have been worse.
  5. I have a book signing at Chapters on October 1st in Kingston, where my novel is set!! Equally nervous and excited!!!
  6. As of tomorrow, there’s a change coming to this blog. I’ve started scheduling my fiction series, “Scenes from the Second Seat on the Right.” The scenes will appear once a day for the next year (there are 365 of them). Some are funny, some serious, some downright sick, most are realistic, yet some are pure fantasy. If you want to learn more about them, see the link in the menu at the top of my blog page. I’m happy to be posting them here, but at the same time I’m a bit worried that I’ll lose followers over them. We’ll see.
  7. The internal battery in my laptop is almost dead. It gives me a warning every time I turn it on. Is this important?
  8. Alex goes back to school on Tuesday!!!
  9.  I need a vacation.

So, what’s new with you?

 


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#SoCS – Belonging

I think it’s going to be a long month. I signed up for NaNo Camp but I haven’t written a word yet. I haven’t even opened the story that I want to finish off for the NaNo project. I’m kind of at that paralised stage at the moment, where there’s so much to do I don’t know where to start so instead I play a mindless casual game in order to escape the pressure. And so I got this image in my head that I wrote about on my fiction blog about half an hour ago as my SoCS post over there for today. It’s fiction, but only in the sense that I’m not quite at that stage yet. I might be, before August gets here. You’ll find the link to that post in the comments below the link for this one – it’s not a long piece.

I sometimes wonder where I belong, you see. I belong to my family and to myself, to the extent that I have my own interests to pursue. I signed up for the editing course I’ve been talking about forever. It’s online at Simon Fraser University in BC, Canada. If I can earn the certificate I will have the opportunity to get into Editors Canada, the highest qualification in the land. From there I may start working toward my English degree. But that’s a long way off. I need the editing courses to freelance and earn the money I’ll need to get my BA.

At times I feel as though I belong to the world of literature. I thrive there. At times I feel like I’m biding my time, waiting to get there. But my responsibilities will always be at home, to my kids.  Now I have to decide what Chris, my middle son will do with the rest of his life. He’s ambitious but autistic and largely unable to secure a position anywhere for himself. He, too, would like to go back to school, to college, but he’s never been without one-on-one help. It’s scary for me to contemplate.

So many decisions, so little time. So much to do, and not long enough to do it. And yet, July will take forever to be over. What a paradox.

SoCS badge 2015

Stream of Consciousness Saturday is fun! Click the link to see how you, too, can join in! https://lindaghill.com/2016/07/01/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-july-216/


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Interpreters – #AtoZ Challenge

I remember the first time someone called me using TTY plus Telephone Relay Service. The way it works is, the telephone company has a hearing interpreter with a TTY (teletype) device between the hearing person and the Deaf person. On the Deaf person’s end, they are either watching the interpreter sign on screen, or reading on the device. In between, the interpreter is listening and signing or typing, and on the hearing person’s end, he or she must speak and then say, “Go ahead,” when finished. It’s a complicated, and at first awkward, but effective method of communicating.

I also remember the first time I spoke to a Deaf person through an interpreter face-to-face. Again, awkward. First, I wasn’t sure where to look. When the Deaf person signed to me, I was able to watch and listen to the interpreter at the same time. But when I spoke, the Deaf person watched the interpreter. I wasn’t sure who I should be looking at. I’ve since gotten a bit more used to it. Second, I never know how fast to talk. I get caught up in watching the signs, and when I catch one I know, I realize how far behind the interpreter is, so I slow down. …or is he/she behind? There’s the backwards grammar to take into consideration too.

I didn’t have to deal with any of this until we moved to Ontario and Alex was enrolled in a Deaf school. Appalling anecdote, that was part of what actually led me to move:

It took about a year to finally have a speech and language pathologist visit Alex at school. It was a regular, English-speaking public school in the Province of Quebec. He had a wonderful EA working with him there, by the name of Lise. She was with him all the time. She spent her lunches tube feeding him and playing with him, and she actually came out of town to visit the Deaf school with me before we moved. Lise is hearing, however, and was at about the same level of American Sign Language I. We both knew it wasn’t enough for him to grow, so enter the speech therapist to advise on whether or not the school should fund an interpreter for him. The pathologist’s final assessment, after watching him in class a couple of times was that he couldn’t benefit from an interpreter, because at his current level of ASL, he wouldn’t understand the interpreter.

It’s like saying adults shouldn’t speak to hearing toddlers because they won’t understand anyway. How does one learn a language unless they are taught by someone who knows more, and is able to expand their vocabulary by example? And this from a woman whose job it was to teach language!

So we moved.

Since then, I’ve been muddling along, learning from what Alex brings home from school more than anything. We learned together, him by being exposed to ASL daily, and me from being exposed to my son. But we’re slowly getting back to needing an interpreter, and I don’t think it will be long before I have to have one at doctor’s appointments. He can now understand most things that are said in the adult world. At fifteen years of age he is still quite far behind mentally, but he’s a teenager. One of the most difficult things for me is knowing where his actual level of understanding lies. I have to rely on teachers for that. It’s like hosting a foreign student who I gave birth to, sometimes.

Alex balloon

My A to Z theme concerns the joys and challenges of being the hearing mother of my Deaf son, Alex. To learn more about his beginnings in life, click here to go to my first A to Z entry.


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The Advocate

I’m not sure if this is going to come off as a tired rant, a tirade, or an attempt to show others that they’re not alone, but here we go anyway.

Advocating for one’s family is a ball-buster. Bureaucracy makes it so that the people working at the level the public deals with on a daily basis in the schools, and all the way up to the federal government, are in a position to simply throw up their hands and say, “Sorry, this is the way it is.” Which makes it necessary for us advocates to go above their heads. But it’s not as easy as just making a phone call. Oh no. There are “proper channels” we must go through. Forms to fill out and send either by snail mail or fax machines we have to drive around town to find and then spend money on.  And then there’s the wait. The wait that is so damned long we forget whether we do indeed have to just wait or follow up. Follow up? Oh yes, start at the bottom again to get the right phone/fax/post office box number.

And while all that’s going on, something else has come up. It’s a lot of work and it’s stressful! Even if we do manage to talk to someone on the phone we have to go into “stand and fight” mode before we even start. Because nothing is easy and no one at the other end is going to give in. If we’re lucky (and I use that term loosely) we get transfered to the next higher up on the food chain so that we can go through our case again. And then what? Normally it’s wait and see. Or, “We’ll mail you the forms to fill out.” Again.

What I have on the go includes (but is not limited to) getting an aid to help my 20 year old Autistic son in class so he can graduate high school this year; getting the funding I’m entitled to for my other son’s eyeglasses; finding out what the hell is going on with the holter (heart) monitor his cardiologist ordered months ago; sorting which hoops I have to jump through for the nurse at his school who doesn’t want him to eat by mouth this year, this after a lengthy process (with a two year waiting list) of having a swallow study done, followed by a report which was discussed at a meeting with the specialists and the above mentioned nurse to explain that he could eat by mouth; finding out what happened to the money my mother was supposed to get back from the condo corporation after we sold her unit… The list goes on and on. And it’s all wrapped up in bureaucratic bullcrap.

Luckily I’m a stay-at-home mom, so I don’t do anything all day anyway… 🙄

I’m sure I’m not alone in this. In fact I’m sure there are others out there who have it even worse than I do. I have to wonder if there’s a better way to do things. Don’t you?


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An Unexpected Day – Tongue Firmly Planted in Cheek

Well! I got a nice surprise yesterday when I opened up an envelope that I received in the mail in, ohh, mid-July. I knew it contained the forms I had to fill out to send with Alex to school on the first day, and being who I am, I waited until the very last minute to have a gander. As it turns out, it wasn’t the last minute after all! Guess who had a “day off” on the very first day of school?

You guessed it!

So to celebrate, we went to the mall to buy shoes. … and rubber boots … and a baseball cap – all in Alex’s favourite, Spiderman!

CAM00337

I drew the line at the Spiderman socks.


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Stream of Consciousness Saturday – Senses

It’s been thirty-four years since I had a discussion in a class in high school – I don’t even remember what the class was, only that the teacher could easily be led astray by an interesting conversation and we wouldn’t have to do any work if we could catch her attention with something.

The discussion was based on two things. First – everyone, at some point in their lives, has six months left to live. If you could know without a shadow of a doubt that you had that much time left, would you want to?

The second of the two subjects that day has more to do with today’s prompt. And I swear, I wasn’t thinking of this when I came up with the prompt. (not sure if I should put that in there or not, but I can’t take it out now, right?)

Anyway, the second of the two subjects we talked about that day was, if you had a choice between losing your sight or your hearing, but you had to choose one, which would you pick?

Most people if I remember correctly, said their hearing. After all, being able to see makes getting around a lot easier. But I was torn. I love music. I love to be able to hear the birds sing. I can’t imagine not being able to hear the beauty of a great guitar riff, or the voice of a singer I adore. I just… can’t.

With so many years of hindsight, and having a Deaf child, I am really now torn. I see him enjoying life without sound – he can still feel the beat of music, and he’s able to communicate for the most part with just about anyone through gestures and body language. Still, he’s never been able to hear music, and so he doesn’t understand what he’s missing.

I don’t know how I would cope without my sight either. Gone would be my camera, and all but the fragrance of flowers. And I walk into things as it is…

It’s a question that will probably stay with me for another thirty-four years, if not more. I hope I never have to choose.

 

This post is part of SoCS: https://lindaghill.wordpress.com/2014/05/16/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-may-1714/

Post one of your own!


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M is for … Money-Making Manuscripts

Writing for money–earning a living at it–has long been a dream of mine.  I’d dearly love to have any day job, but being single and caring for my two kids with their numerous disabilities, makes it unfeasible for me to work outside the home. I’ve never attempted to hide the fact that I live off of the social assistance that I receive for my kids. Actually, scratch that. I have a paper route for which I earn a whopping $15 per week.

So during the time that I’m not driving to appointments, looking after them when they’re either sick or sent home with behavioural issues, I write. I suppose you could say I’m in a rather enviable position, in that if I do make even one dollar selling a novel I’ve gained something.

The fact is that one day I may find myself living alone. If I’m unable to care for my kids anymore, for whatever reason, and they go to assisted living elsewhere, I’ll have nothing but whatever I gain through this practice of writing. Yes, I have a background in bookkeeping, and have worked in retail, reception, data entry, and on dude ranches and thoroughbred farms, but who will hire me when I get to the point that I can’t care for my children and have nothing to put on my resume since 1999?

Realistically, at this point, my future lies in my writing. When I have enough money saved I’ll take more courses; I’ve never been more determined to do anything in my life, and I want to be good at it. If I can sell these manuscripts I have laying around–three of them so far–either to a publisher or by self-publishing, I may just be okay. Is there a living to be made? I think it’s best I find out now, while I at least still have my paper route.

 

Things are getting weirder with Jupiter and Xavier over on my fiction blog. Click to read: http://lindaghillfiction.wordpress.com/2014/04/15/m-is-for-maniacal-mischief/


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JusJoJan 16 – Sometimes I Have the Strangest Conversations

Yesterday I had to take my son, Alex, to the doctor to get a note for school. It wasn’t for a high-risk field trip; it wasn’t because of some strange sort of disease the school needed to be assured he was free from – nothing like that.

I needed a note to say that he was allowed to eat. The first conversation on the phone with the doctor’s secretary went something like this:

Me: Hi. I need an appointment to get a doctor’s note.

Secretary: Okay, what is it for?

Me: Well, you see, the nurse at his school won’t let him eat until he has an all-clear from the doctor.

Secretary: Soooo, when was the last time he went to school?

Me: Today.

Secretary: How long has it been since the school didn’t allow him to eat.

Me: It’s been about a week.

Secretary: ….

Me: So can I get an appointment soon? Or…

Secretary: I don’t understand.

Me: Neither do I.

All of this, of course, came about because he aspirated (inhaled and had lodged in his right lung) a piece of food on Christmas Eve. For the most part he is tube fed, but the school wants to make sure it’s safe for him to eat before they’ll let him do so.

So today I went to the doctor. That conversation went as follows:

Doctor: Sooo… what do you want me to write?

Me: Just say he can eat. OH, and drink. I don’t want to have to bother you again in case they decide that’s against the rules as well.

Doctor: And he’s been fine when he eats at home, right?

Me: As fine as he’s ever been.

Doctor: Oookay.

(She starts typing.)

Me: I guess this isn’t something you write a note for every day, eh?

Doctor: Err, no.

Today, Alex went to school with the note in his backpack. After not being allowed to eat with the other kids for a week, he’s a happy camper.

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Post on your site, and join Just Jot it January. The rules are easy!

1. It’s never too late to join in, since the “Jot it” part of JusJoJan means that anything you jot down, anywhere (it doesn’t have to be a post) counts as a “Jot.” If it makes it to WordPress that day, great! If it waits a week to get from the sticky note to your screen, no problem!
2. If you write a JusJoJan post on your blog, you can ping it back to the above link to make sure everyone participating knows where to find it.
3. Write anything!
4. Have fun!


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JusJoJan 5 – Keeping It Together

I can always tell when my youngest son, Alex, is ready to go back to school after having time off – his behaviour is intolerable. Right now I’m trying to ignore him while he plays a game on his Wii U and screams and claps louder than one would think is humanly possible. The alternative is to shut him in his room until tomorrow morning, in which case he won’t get the nutrition he needs because he’ll unplug his feeding pump.

If tomorrow is a snow day I may just kill something.

Don’t let the above post scare you off! Post on your site, and join Just Jot it January. The rules are easy!


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Schoolin’

I have to say, I’m probably enjoying my online courses more than I have a right to. When I was a teenager I hated school. I took off every chance I got – would drive to Niagara Falls for a day instead of going to classes. But now that I’m an adult I don’t understand my mindset back then. Okay, sure, to me high school seemed pretty useless. After all, what better way to learn about life than live it? The walls of an institution didn’t seem the most conducive setting for LIFE with capital letters. I suppose, now that I’m writing about the life of a teenager in my novel, it’s good to look back and remember as much of that time as I can.

But I digress.

This post is supposed to be about my current schooling. I passed my grammar course with a fairly decent 83% and now I’m on the last phase to getting my certificate – Writing Short Stories.

Before the course started I thought I was just going to sail through it, much as I thought I would with the grammar course. Why wouldn’t I? After all, I can bang out a respectable short story in an afternoon. When I received the lesson plan however, I was stopped in my tracks. You see, the course will take me almost up to Christmas and I will have one short story to write. First I must submit an idea. A few weeks later, my task is to hand in a first draft, and at the beginning of December I must write the final draft.

So I’ve got all this time to write a short story. No problem, you would think. But I’ve got all this time to write a short story, and that’s the problem! To come up with ONE idea and ruminate over it over the course of two months is torture to me. You see, I’m what is commonly referred to these days as a ‘pantser.’ I get an idea, but I not only have to write it down right away, if I don’t actually write the story right away, I’ll lose it.

You might say, so just write the story and have done with it. Hand it in when it’s time. That would be fine, except my OCD won’t allow it. If I know myself well, I will write it, review it, edit it, edit it some more, and given that much time and that much editing, it’s going to look like a pile of steaming crap by the time I go to submit it, because I’ll have overthunk it to death.

I have decided, then, to try for once to actually take my time. Do the whole outline thing, maybe even draw myself a storyboard; create characters before I write the thing… I’ll treat it like an experiment. Do it the way the other half – the non-panster – does it. It’s going to be a challenge.