Please don’t make me talk. And, ironically, a podcast.

Learning how to ask for help is a big part of life, and even moreso if you have a disability. We’re taught from a young age, hopefully, that it is a necessary thing, and we learn as we get older that it is, often, a survival skill.

But guys sometimes it’s really, really hard.

I don’t mean it’s hard in the sense that I am so beautiful and independent that I think I don’t need it. Or even that I have difficulty accepting that I need people’s help, though this is sometimes the case. What I mean is that there are a number of factors, like shyness, introversion, embarrassment, fear, that make asking for help difficult on almost a physical level. Now, I think this is one of the your milage may very moments, because maybe this isn’t a problem for some people, who are comfortable and extroverted. And that’s fabulous for them. But consider this a PSA from your shy/introverted/nervous blind people, okay?

I have a very vivid memory from my childhood that helps illustrate this. When I was younger, I was given orientation and mobility training. It’s training most blind people receive at some point, to teach them how to get around, how to use a cane, how to cross the street without dying (it’s a skill you generally need to be taught if you don’t have the functioning eyeballs). Part of my training, as I got older, was to select a location in an unfamiliar place, and learn how to get myself there. This involved some internet research (it was the early 2000s, for some reason I feel like google just wasn’t there yet), calling places, and learning how to approach strangers on the street, if all else failed, to ask for directions. I. hated. it! I think about walking up to those people, or, if no one was around, pretending my teacher was a stranger, and even 15 years later, I feel my stomach curling in on itself. As someone who is both shy of strangers, and an introvert, they might as well have been asking me to start singing and dancing. And it wasn’t because anything bad ever happened to me. People were always happy to help. But it was a painful process for me. I wasn’t embarrassed that I needed help, I just didn’t want to have to engage with strangers.

That was something of an extreme case. As a teenager, I hated talking to strangers so much that I used to offer to pay for my friends’ fast food if they’d be willing to order for us. I *really* hated talking to people I didn’t know. But even now, as I’ve gotten older and arguably more confident, there are still times where I don’t want to ask. I don’t know if you understand the feeling of being a woman in her 30s, asking someone to take you to the restroom? It’s not great. Yes, everybody goes, and yes, you’ve had to ask where it is in your own life. But I’m pretty sure you’ve never had to ask anyone to take you there, or needed to ask a stranger where the tampon dispenser is (the non-standard layout of public restrooms is a passionate rant of mine, for another time)

All that to say, sometimes it’s hard to ask, and for reasons you might not think of. Sometimes, it’s embarrassing. Sometimes, I’m having a bad day like everyone else, and I don’t want to talk to my good friends, much less a stranger, because I’m an introvert and I just don’t want to. Sometimes, I’m not in a good location, and I don’t feel safe seeking out a stranger. There are any number of reasons. And there is not necessarily anything you can do about this. So this post is not really a call to action. Sure, if someone looks lost, it’s okay to offer help, with an emphasis on *offer*. If they say they don’t want it, respect that; there are a number of reasons, like those listed above, and many others, that they just might not be able to cope with accepting your assistance in that moment. But on the flipside of that, try to take cues. If someone is looking closed off, or if they are doing everything possible to avoid metaphorical eye contact, just leave them to it, and wait. There is a difference between feeling unable to ask for help, and actually not wanting to. And if you hear about the latter, please don’t judge. I guess if there’s a call to action here, it’s that. If someone just didn’t have it in them to engage with a stranger, trust that they had a good reason, and let them do it.

We’re supposed to be well-trained in geting what we want and need. But sometimes things get in the way of that, and having someone who understands that can be really, really great. I know this post seems a little our of the norm for a teaching blog, but this has been something that’s been on my mind lately, especially after a conversation on how little we take things like introversion, shyness, etc, into account when talking about disability. Sometimes, the blindness is not the thing getting most in the way of doing stuff.

This, and many other things, are topics I will be covering in my… podcast. Yes, you heard that right. The introvert was on a podcast. I sat down with another grad student from our department and talked about blindness in teaching and academia, and about including folks with disabilities in the diversity conversation. I think it actually turned out pretty great. I’m not sure if I’ll post the actual thing here, as I still don’t know how much of my personal information I want on this blog. But I will post the main points, or a transcript, or something of that nature for sure.

Anyway, thank you for sitting through that strange and rambling post. I’m trying to be a better blogger here, which means sometimes writing long meandering things about topics that might only interest me. But as always, I appreciate you hanging around. Stay tuned for next time, when I will entirely flip sides on my personality, and talk about how a busy semester has caused me to go on the war path of accessibility, and how that’s something we should be pushing more. What can I say; I’m a walking, talking contradiction. Until then, thank you for reading. And please, if you see formatting errors here… just this once let them go. WordPress introduced a new post editor, and I hate it. But I’m learning how to work it out, and the next post will be prettier. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a dissertation chapter to go weep over.

Be well!.

Ready, Set…

Second semester of my first year in the doctorate program has just gotten underway as of this morning, so it seemed as good a time as any to pop up out of the churning waves, gasping and flailing, to attempt a more consistent blogging schedule. This semester I am no longer an adjunct in the dark; instead I am a writing tutor in the dark, so in theory there should be more time without all that pesky grading. But the title of gradstudentinthedark still firmly remains as an implied subtitle, so I’m sure there will be plenty of madness to fill these pages.

I am reassured of this fact by the following information:
-My house is an absolute mess.
-My countertops are invisible under a pile of dirty dishes and tins of tea.
-You could knit a rather nice sweater out of the amount of cat hair in my house.
-I just figured out my schedule…today, for the semester that started…today.
-I still don’t actually know what I’m supposed to do for the other half of my job.
-It’s the first Monday and I’m already upset I have to go to work tomorrow.
-…this is only the first day of the semester.

See? Plenty of chaos. Some of it might not even be whining. But writing tutoring is also a brand new experience, one which will bring me into contact with the ranks of students beyond my freshman composition classes. And there is just nothing about that that promises any sort of awful normality.

And speaking of sleep in the worst segue ever, this is a thing I should do. Because if you can’t be well-rested for Monday, tell it to bugger off and shoot for Tuesday instead.

A happy belated new-year for anyone still hanging around in the void-that-is-the-blog. I hope to bring you tales of strange chaos and utter madness soon.

Be well!

Poor, poor neglected blog…

I was doing so well with keeping up posting here, and then I just…failed.  This fall hit me hard.  I couldn’t really tell you why.  But my energy levels have been at less than 0.  But I’m back in action now, so let’s hope it holds.

 

Translation: I’m submitting PHD applications, prepping my students for their final research papers, and trying to prepare for the holidays.  So, go go gadget procrastination.

 

I won’t do a recap of the entire semester here, because frankly, none of you really care that much.  I don’t, either.  But let’s say it’s been a little rough.  I can’t tell if it’s my lack of enthusiasm, or if I just have the biggest collection of bums ever, but we are just not making headway.  They are not bad kids, but they are lazy, and ballsy about being lazy.  I am also lazy, and we are just having a big old collaborative laze-fest that is not getting things done.

 

Some of my favorite examples of our issues:

“I didn’t get the essay. So I didn’t do it.” (We had been working on it in class for 20 minutes.)

“Can I get some help? Also how do I do citations.” (the evening *after* we turned the paper in.)

“We have to read the whole thing?” (I gave them class time to read an article they were supposed to read for homework.)

 

So I think it might be a combo.  Grad apps season also means that my brain is not totally on teaching.  So I’m working on being better–if I have more pep, maybe they will too.  I’m also hoping stuffing myself with potatoes and pie for the next three days will put a bit of zip back in me.  Or it will send me into a food coma.  I will take either.

 

And, finally, since I know you were all dying to hear about it…

 

THE TEACHERS LOUNGE SAGA CONTINUES!

 

So, either my colleagues are paranoid, or actual hot magma comes out of the coffee machine.

 

Me: *creeps in, trying not to interrupt jabbering ladies*.

Jabbering ladies: blah blah blah, What Not to Wear, so-and-so’s grandpa…*slow fade to silence*.

Me: *continues to be awkward. Grabs cup for coffee.*

Jabbering ladies: *whisper whisper, mumble something about coffee*.

Single jabbering lady: *comes over* it’s hot. Do you need help? I don’t want you to burn yourself. It’s REALLY hot.

Me: I’m fine.  It’s…I’m…I’ve got it.

Lady: *looks dubious*.

Me: *collects coffee.  Waves like manic idiot. Flees.*

 

And they keep going silent and watching me when I go in there.  It is coffee, not lava. Calm down, people.  It’s getting to the point where I don’t even go in there if I can hear people–the worried staring is just uncomfortable for everybody.

 

So, I hope that amused you, or at least told you my sense of humor has not improved.  I’m going to try going back to around once a week.  If that doesn’t happen…someone poke me.  I either got lazy, or I’m taking a cross-country hike to go throw eggs at the ETS building.

 

…or I crawled under my bed and am refusing to come out.  Anything is possible.

My Victory’s Complete!

I finally have a contract!  And once I get off this blog, I’m actually going to go sign it!

 

The writing prompt for today was “pick the third line from the last song you heard and make it your post title, then write.”  I usually reserve that kind of posting for when I have important non-bloggy things to do that I’m procrastinating on, but upon reflection, the title seemed appropriate.  Thanks, Joss.

It was Just the Wind

I went to campus today to run a few beginning-of-semester errands, including “I wonder where my classroom is” and “let’s see if anybody knows why I don’t have a real contract yet.”  In the process, I decided to stop down to find out where my mailbox was, because I…never actually used it last year, and I needed to have some desk copies sent to school.

 

Turns out…I don’t have one.  The lady asked me if it was going to be my first semester.  I said no, and she just looked puzzled and said she’d get her boss to Email me (which he didn’t do, but my hopes weren’t high on that front).  Luckily, I found out I can ship desk copies to the department office, so all’s well on that score.

 

Then, upon arriving home, I had a note from our accessibility services, notifying me of some things relating to my class list.  Immediately following that Email, I had a “welcome to the university, here’s what you need to know about the accessibility office.”

 

…Was I invisible last year?  Did I just end up as a figment of my supervisor’s imagination?  I know there are probably reasonable explanations for why I’m getting some of this stuff now, but it kind of makes me feel like I just hallucinated the last two semesters, and really this is my first time teaching.  I’d heard adjuncts were forgettable to some people, but I really must have done a spectacular job of being antisocial.  There seems to be no sign that I actually existed in 2012.

 

On the bright side, I did find the infamous faculty lounge!  The one where, when I asked where it was, I got the “…I have no idea” from two or three different people.  This, and the strange look I got from someone going in there this afternoon, kind of leads me to believe adjuncts aren’t really “welcome” there, but it is a magical land with coffee and hot water for tea and a microwave and a toaster and dammit I am not giving that up.

 

…I did not have the guts to take a brownie off the table. I want to challenge boundaries here, not stomp them into little pieces.  The social order must be maintained.

 

One week and counting…