Time for introductions

I’d like to welcome you to my literary corner of cyberspace. It’s not very big and not very well decorated, so I hope you don’t mind roughing it. I’m Emily, and I’ll be bringing you tales of my experiences – insightful, venturesome, and reflective encounters that offer you a version of my reality. I can call them insightful, because the writing of them is helping me to learn about myself and the place I inhabit. I can only hope that reading them will edify you as writing them as edified me.

A little about me…

I’m finishing up a Master’s degree in English at UNF in Jacksonville, FL. I have a terrifying love of books – nonfiction, fiction, poetry – and I love the medium as well as the texts it delivers. None of that crazy Kindle business for me – I prefer holding the book in my hands, feeling and turning the pages, and marking the text with a pen. It’s not that I don’t appreciate what technology can do or the many trees that are spared with the move from hard copies to ebooks. I relate to my books tactilely. I remember where things are not by what page their on, but by where I read them on the page. I can remember a passage because it appeared on the left page, toward the bottom. In this way, i feel I’m inside the text, a part of it. I’ve tried the whole ebook thing and I feel so distant from the text – like I’m in a book museum looking at the works through a glass-fronted display case and not actually reading them.

This sort of “on display behind the glass” approach does not appeal to me, and I am happy to explain why. I am legally blind – legally because, according to the law, my vision is so poor that I shouldn’t ever be allowed to drive a car, operate on someone’s brain, or do a host of other, highly visual tasks. But I am not totally blind; I have low vision, and it works relatively well for what I need it to do. I am very nearsighted, but I can read texts printed in standard sizes as long as I use a magnifier or the bifocals in my glasses. I travel around using a white cane, because my peripheral vision is ghastly and I need the cane to tell me the (often surprising) locations of stairs, curbs, columns, bushes, and occasionally, people.

Because of my low vision, it is hardly startling that I prefer to relate to the world along other axes of sensory perception. I find I rely heavily on auditory and tactile information and I tend to prefer experiences that engage these senses. This is why the typical museum that exhibits treasured items behind a glass case has no allure for me. I am usually not allowed to touch these items and so I have a hard time relating to them. Also, I often cannot visually track objects. For example, if someone offers me something, I have to touch it first before my eyes understand where it is.

It’s amazing how much of the world is behind glass cases.

It’s also difficult for me to decide whether my hobbies and interests are a result of my low vision or whether I am attracted to music, literature, cooking, and perfumes “just because.” When I was three years old, a low vision specialist told my parents that putting me in piano lessons would help me learn to type later in life, so they put me in piano lessons. I love music (I prefer singing  to piano these days) and, because I love it, I think about it constantly. And I ask myself, if my parents hadn’t followed that very apt advice, would I have found music as I know it now? Would I feel so connected to it?

Aside from singing, I take great delight in writing poetry and hope to publish someday. I also enjoy being outside, though I’m extremely light sensitive so I prefer to sit in the shade. While sunshine feels wonderful, it is very visually taxing for me. Sunlight takes my low vision and makes it no vision. So I’m a Floridian who hates the beach.

But I love trees, old dusty bookshops, drinking coffee, long strolls, shoe-shopping (almost any kind of shopping), and intense discussions. The activity that I feel I could do all day, every day, however, is singing. Singing lifts the spirit in unquantifiable ways – ways that have, to date, baffled my literary skills. I’m still trying to capture on paper what singing does for me.

I have come to this space to be forthright and clear. I invite questions, as I’m sure I’ll run out of ideas for future entries soon enough. I also invoke the kindness and patience of my readers, since writing flourishes under such conditions.

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3 Comments

  1. KATHY MICHAEL

     /  February 5, 2012

    Even as I read this very first entry on your blog I have learned something about what it means to see from behind your eyes. As hard as I can I could only imagine the realities of your world such as it is. This will be such a help and education tool for many, sighted and not. Your writing is such a gift and this is only the beginning! I am so excited to be able to share in this journey with you. You should know by now how very much you are loved and cherished especially by Dad and me. You are my heart, my breath and my joy. I am so proud of you and your persistence and endurance to forge ahead with your own goals and NOT accept limits others try to place on you. Please remember to put all the odd and funny encounters we have had with other people that have had us laughing hysterically. Those are the good moments too.

    Reply
  2. I agree that it was very insightful, as most of our conversations are. I’m glad that you’re starting up on your blog after we’ve chatted about it for a while. Totally understand what you mean about running out of ideas for a blog topic very quickly, I think this year is the most I’ve ever updated one without it being a soap box for whining (I used to do that really, REALLY, bad on xanga a couple years back).

    I find the entry above very beautiful in that, as Kathy said, it helps the reader see through your eyes. It is odd just how much of the world is behind glass with the whole “look don’t touch” mentality even though there are people out there that it affects deeply not to be able to touch. I’m glad that you were able to share this information about yourself and look forward to reading some of your future entries and maybe sometime providing that little bit of inspiration for an off the wall post or two :p

    Reply

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