Can’t see it? Just do it. Stuff for the blind and everyone else.
Can’t see it? Just do it. Stuff for the blind and everyone else.
I’ve been sitting on this exciting news for a while, but I didn’t want to announce it until the dust started settling. There are a lot of moving parts to an event of this caliber, you know.
I chuckle when I think back to a particular challenge on my season of “MasterChef”: it was when there were six of us left, and we were divided into two teams and commissioned to run the back of the house for dinner service at one of L.A.’S Michelin-rated restaurants, Hatfield’s. It was the boys versus the girls, and I was on the team with Becky and Monti. Becky was team captain over vision impaired me and hard-of-hearing Monti. In between footage of us scrambling in the hot commercial kitchen putting together branzini and venison chops, the camera splices to me in my confessional, laughing: “Poor Becky’s got Team Helen Keller on her hands” (or something to that effect).
When this episode aired, I got a handful of hater comments on Facebook and Twitter, people aghast at my blasphemy. “I’ve lost all respect for Christine. Helen Keller was a magnificent role model.” “How dare you, Christine! Helen Keller should be respected.”
SXSW is an Austin music festival that has, in later years, morphed into a huge multimedia conference with events in industries like film, tech, and art.
This year’s SXSW, however, was struck by tragedy when 21-year-old Rashad Owens, in an intoxicated attempt to flee from the police, drove straight into a crowd, injuring more than 20 fest-goers and killing, as of today, three victims.
The Paralympics always take place a week after the Olympics in the same town. The Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games, the eleventh of its kind, just saw their closing ceremony Sunday. Forty-five countries participated in 72 medal events in five sports: alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, ice sledge hockey, and wheelchair curling. 2014 also marked the debut of my favorite winter sport, snowboarding. The USA sent 74 Paralympic athletes, and it was the first Paralympic Winter Games for Brazil, Turkey, and Uzbekistan.
Last week, I discussed some of the things I’ve been doing to get in better shape and my dislike for blind running. The AFB offers some good tips on how to guide a blind runner, and to follow up on the matter, I found the YouTube video above about Paralympics track and field.
But guiding someone who is visually impaired extends way beyond the jogging trail. It’s part of the daily routines of my family, my friends, and mine. When my eyesight decreased to the level it’s at now, the boyfriend-turned-hubster had to learn how to guide me when walking around. He was never one to make me feel handicapped, so he was not super attentive when guiding me–“tough love,” he calls it. My friends have also since learned how to guide me, and most of them are very good. Some are more attentive than others, often holding both of my hands and walking backwards through a crowd, while others are easygoing and merely mention a change in terrain when they deem it absolutely necessary. I myself prefer a middle ground.
It’s nearing the end of February, and judging by the crowd I encounter on the evenings I hit the gym, people are still keeping up with their 2014 new year’s resolution to get into shape. I’m not one to make resolutions, as I believe goals should be made when a person finds the desire and is ready to do so. I don’t believe in waiting until January 1st to stop smoking, start eating healthier, start exercising, etc. If you know you should stop drinking two liters of Coke a day, and you’re ready to take that plunge on December 8th, then do it on December 8th.
Ever since I turned thirty and grew a muffin-top, I knew that I would soon have to undergo some lifestyle changes. No longer were the days when I could eat fried chicken, pizza, eggrolls, and pan-fried noodles to my heart’s content without worrying about my waistline, cholesterol, blood sugar, etc. But I wasn’t ready to take that next step to getting fit. I wasn’t ready to drink kale juice and enroll in bootcamp classes.
Until the summer after I turned 34 last year.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know the winter Olympics are going on now in Sochi, Russia. Growing up, I loved the winter Olympics. My favorite sport to watch was figure skating. It was a pastime I enjoyed with my mama. But now that I can no longer see, the Olympics on TV have dropped on my list of enjoyable activities. But since they only happen once every four years, I figured I should try to have some idea of what’s going on, so this past week, I’ve tuned in my television to the Olympics, if only to listen to the sportscasters narrate the competition.
I do wish I could see the snowboarding sports though. I used to live in L.A., which must explain my fondness for surfers. And the winter alternative to a surfer is a snowboarder. And ever since I picked up snowboarding, my affinity for the sport has grown.
Telling time has been the bane of my vision-less life. When I was still in grad school, I was wearing a talking digital watch. It had a button on the face, and when you press the button, it announced the time in a muffled, mechanical voice. It never failed: every class period, I’d accidentally knock my wrist against the table or chair, and the voice would say aloud, “You’ve still got another painful 98 minutes of class.”
Okay, just kidding. It would read the time, but it was embarrassing nonetheless, and I felt like a dunce. My ears would burn, and I’d apologize, even though nobody seemed to care. I just didn’t (and still don’t) like a lot of attention on myself (which is why it’s all the more surprising that I chose to do a televised competition).
It’s the beginning of November, and that means the holidays are right around the corner. And that means draining your bank account to buy unappreciated gifts for your significant other, your children, your great uncle, your neighbor, your coworker, your boss, your pets…Then there’s the long hours (days?) of holiday cooking only to result in a dry turkey that nobody touches. And then there’s the stress of feeling your gut oozing out over your waistline and then the dilemma of trying to finish that dry turkey yourself since you hate wasting food, which leads back to the muffin-top issues. Sigh. The insanity. The stress.
Whew. Talk about a long-winded headline. But lately, I’ve had lots of energy. Not only did Pop-up Episode 1 at MKT BAR go off without a hitch (more on that soon—I’ll have a surprise for you in that regard), I’ve been [sort of] relaxing lately with some down time before the culinary adventures begin again.
I’ve been sleeping better than I have in years, trying to eat a little healthier, and working out a little more than usual (which, sadly enough, isn’t much). But I’m feeling good. I have a few weeks to shed the apron for the pen; with a personal essay and short story on my revision desk, not to mention that pesky memoir I haven’t touched since my thesis defense, I’m welcoming a change of pace in my daily routine. But what I’m looking forward to the most is being able to wear pajamas, no make-up, and bed-head every day.
This week, I have a guest blogger (my first one ever, so be kind). Meet Jon. He reached out to me after learning about me on “MasterChef.”. Jon is a photographer. Read on to find out what makes Jon’s story so intriguing.
Hi, I’m Jon. Like many, I have been inspired by Christine to achieve my Dreams.
I have 2 things in common with Christine. First, I am a creative person; I couldn’t cook to save my life, but I can paint, draw, and take great photos. Second, I have temporary blindness—I’m currently legally blind in my left eye from a secondary Cataract, and am fighting permanent blindness from Glaucoma.
My story began when I was just 19 months old and was Diagnosed as one of the youngest cases of Junior Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA). This was well treated during my youth and went into remission. Meanwhile, I was showing a lot of promise as an artist; my grandmother and father both taught me how to paint and draw. Growing up, I was always known as the artist.
In junior High, the JRA struck hard and fast, almost crippling me. I was quickly treated before it could cause permanent damage. With medicine like Celebrex, and Enbrel, I was able to suppress it and live a normal life.
At 16, I noticed some blurriness in my right eye. It turned out to be Uveitis (arthritis/inflammation in the eye caused by my JRA). the treatment of this disease is what ended up causing my Cataracts and Glaucoma a few years later. During this time, I had honed my craft and was able to draw pictures with such detail that people often mistook them for photos. I won competitions and was accepted as a Sophomore in High School to a prestigious Art School in Brooklyn.
But I decided to go to college in Idaho for business. After just a semester, I was pulled out because I had full-blown Glaucoma in my right eye and had lost 75% of my optic nerves life. I spent the next few years in surgery and recovery. That was when I reevaluated my life and realized there are no guarantees for tomorrow. I then spent my early 20s soaking up life: traveling, skiing, hiking, spending time with my friends at their colleges—getting the most out of life that I possibly could. This was hands down one of the 2 best decisions I have made. I still live my life with this mindset and love it.
Three years ago, I made the other best decision of my life: I started my photography business. I jumped in head first, bought a professional camera and lens setup, and immediately started building my portfolio. It was a few years before I learned how to be a professional in the industry, all the while losing vision in my right eye to the point where I couldn’t see any definition through my viewfinder. I would use my left eye to see the shot and try to frame the composition with my right eye. Amazingly I did some great work during that time. I was able to get the blurriness cleared up, thanks to my great doctors and new technologies.
I am now becoming one of the best photographers in the area, and I’m working towards national recognition. God gave me challenges and shortcomings, but two things He gave me in abundance are Aspiration and Drive. I spend every day studying and teaching myself how to become better. I want to be recognized as one of the best photographers in the world, and won’t settle until that happens. Watching Christine take on a challenge that seemed insurmountable, and not only do well, but excel and ultimately win was all the affirmation and inspiration I could ever ask for. It just goes to show that your limits only reside in your mind. Knowing this has amplified my determination and growth. I have seen a great deal of personal and professional success since being inspired by her on “MasterChef.” Knowing that I am capable of becoming the best has torn down the walls that were once limiting me. I just turned 30 a few weeks ago and am looking forward to my future.
Thanks, Jon, for sharing your story. And you all thought I was nuts for being a Blind Cook, huh? Check out Jon’s work at Jon M Photography, and show him some blind love.