Thought Wheel

From the mind of Ann Chiappetta

The Words Keep Coming

| Filed under blindness Poem Writing Life

I am often asked about the process of writing when being interviewed. Folks are curious about the manifestation of creativity and how it influences writing poetry. While I am certainly not an expert on the subject for anyone else but myself, I strongly suspect the Muse bestows the inspiration upon each of us in a unique manner. We do have gross similarities, like the tools we use, i.e., laptops or hand-written pages, etc., but we also diverge once the synapses fire and begin the journey of creation in each of our minds.

For example, I often dream my writing ideas. I’ve been awakened by lines of text, images, and what I call mental films playing along in my head. This is a curious thing, because I’ve been blind for over thirty years yet I continue to dream as if I’d never lost it. Full technicolor, for sure.

Recently I awoke from a musing and it resulted in a poem, the first poem written in 2020. I also somehow created a fantasy story with a swashbuckling immortal character named Von and a humanoid species called Felini, cat-like creatures with names like Tika, Shona, and Flame. Where the story will take me, only the muse knows but I like where I’m going. I wish I could share the poem, but, now that potential publishers and literary magazines consider posting on a blog “previously published” and will reject an author’s work because of this, I must hold such things aside until published. May the Muse be with you.

Poem from the poetry collection, Upwelling; Poems C 2016 availible on Amazon and Audible
DREAM
© 2016 by Ann Chiappetta

Sleep-film portrays lurching scenes of Disney World
damp pavement trod on by millions of feet.
You stand on the recently dried cobblestones
of Main Street U.S.A.
A somber overcoat hangs on you like a dish rag.
emancipating your regrets.
Tears and mumbled blessings
mix as our faces touch.
Your cheek is cold and cancerous.

Sleep-film shuffles

Scrambling through the Florida downpour
A Barker lures us inside.
My florid yellow jacket drips
Your loose, somber coat is as dry as a shroud.
Inside, double doors lead to a great hall.
Black tie patrons rotate on the dance floor like dolls.
Your arm sweeps in the gala affair,
“A gift for us to remember me.” you say.
I’m aggrieved by your vanity

Flash point warnings ignite around us
like confetti stars
the dolls applaud as they fall.

Fear not, here is something written and previously published.

Hope and the Job Hunt

| Filed under blindness

Well, folks, it has been 4 months since I separated with the VA and the path has been bumpy. Knowing all about adjustment and how to support others along the journey is not the same as trying to support oneself along the rocky road to success.

It can be very lonely.

This post is one of intention, meaning, I want to state the positive steps taken, accept and move on past the negative experiences and feelings so I can focus and find the best employment opportunity.

I found it effective to visit the local job center, or One Stop located in the Department of Labor and received an objective and valuable assessment of my skills and possible employment avenues. This, along with input from colleagues who are employment specialists, assisted in boosting my confidence and sense of hope. Until then, I was feeling as if I was back in 1997, feeling lost and unable to identify just who I was professionally and how I could earn a living.

Thank goodness the One Stop and wonderfully supportive colleagues grounded me and helped me work on a few employment goals and now I don’t feel so trapped or hopeless.

This is doing something to reach my goals. I am reviewing how to handle tricky interview questions, what to prepare for during the interview, and such things that I haven’t had to consider for over ten years. It is intimidating but not impossible.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been hard at work; attending a few interviews I knew were only conducted to test my long untried skills, among other tasks. I have gained the confidence to handle the interview nerves, but still want those good intentions to float my way for next week. Feel free to send them my way.

Smashwords book sale

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Poem Writing Life

Words of life book cover

Tranquil photo of stacked stones beside circular pattern in the sand.

End of Year Holiday Book Sale
Looking for a unique eBook for a special gift for a fellow reader? Do you belong to a book club and need to find a low-priced eBook with a beautiful cover and meaningful content? Do you like to load up your book reader with great titles for the wintertime? Look no further, This image requires alt text, but the alt text is currently blank. Either add alt text or mark the image as decorative.Smashwords has what you want.

Take advantage of the Smashwords book sale from December 25 to January 1. All three of my titles are discounted at checkout, no hunting for discount codes. Here’s the link to find out more: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/AnnChiappetta

Guide Dog Lifestyle: Is This What You Want?

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Relationships Writing Life

Annie and Bailey outside the HotelWorking with a guide dog brings along perks, like being offered the aisle seat at events, being given the extra leg room seats on trains, and pre-boarding when flying. These, of course, are the obvious advantages.

I would most likely be presented with most of these as a white cane user when traveling without a guide dog, although, perhaps the extra leg room seats would not be part of it. Traveling with a disability can be challenging enough, thank-you.

My dog guides me safely while also assisting in softening the stressors of traveling. A dog also helps with engaging in social events.

A few of the little-known perks are humorous, along with being practical. For instance, my dog, like many other guide dogs, is an expert at finding friends and family during parties and in crowds. Both my current dog and my retired dog have found my husband or other guide dog users countless times. They are creatures of habit and will most likely show the handler familiar locations and individuals. I think of it as, “Hey, is this the door you want? Or Hey, we know this person, maybe you want to talk to them again so I can say hi to their dog?

The most recent time I recall being surprising as well as useful was during a convention. Upon exiting the elevator, Bailey began pulling harder and I knew he was on a mission. He brought me up to my friend and her new dog. The same friend who trained beside us for two weeks when I first got Bailey. It was very smart, for a dog. 😊 I didn’t even think he would remember her, but he did. We also had this sneaking suspicion Bailey and her new dog, (not the one who trained with us) and Bailey knew one another from the kennel, acting like old friends.

Some folks say being a guide dog user is too-time consuming, that it’s all about the dog, and the extra attention is difficult to manage. Personally speaking, I prefer the social and travel advantages my dog provides. It far outweighs the annoyances.
Annie and Bailey outside the Hotel

New Routines

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Relationships Writing Life

New Routines

It’s been 3 months since I’ve stopped working. The first month was the hardest, trying to make sense of things, second guessing myself and clinging to what was left of my self-confidence.

Month two was filled with phone calls, meetings and interviews, followed by the realization that at my age and because of my disability, I might not ever work again. I began to tell people I am semi-retired and it is still what I am sticking with as I write this blog post.
Month three is starting to be the new routine: stay up late, sleep late, write, and mix in job trolling, meetings, and motivate myself to do the mundane household tasks. Sigh.

The most interesting pieces of being home, other than the nagging holes of time, is how our animals have adjusted. They appear to like it, especially my 13-year-old lab, Verona, and the cat, Titan. For instance, Verona expects a walk around 2 p.m. It doesn’t matter if she went out at 10 a.m., when 2 p.m. comes around, she’s panting and poking at me.

We have also gotten into what I will call treat-time. Titan and Verona appear at my desk chair. I get poked by the dog and the cat jumps up on the desk. This means the human must dispense treats. A Few Kittie crunchies for the cat and a few low-calorie treats for the dogs. Yes, Bailey is there as soon as he hears the cat treat bag open. Piggy boy. Our third dog, May, is usually with our daughter, so she loses out until later.

At 3-ish, we go for walkies and May and Bailey play after May is walked. The human is bothered again by piggy boy Bailey for dinner at after play time. If the animals weren’t here to keep me busy, it would be much harder to stay focused.

I find it ironic that the day has conformed to what I refer to as Zoo time. Maybe I can find employment at a kennel instead.

Virtual Book Fair

| Filed under blindness Fiction Guide dogs Poem Uncategorized Writing Life

Good Books, Unique Gifts, and New Opportunities at your Fingertips

First Book Fair

Behind Our Eyes, an organization of writers with disabilities, held its first virtual book fair conference call. Bonnie Blose and Marilyn Brandt Smith hosted this two-hour event. A brief introduction to the focus and activities of the organization was followed by a parade of books: poetry, novels, memoirs, writings of the holiday season, essays, and a newly released handbook written to assist navigating the health care system for blind and visually impaired consumers.,

Nine authors presented information about their books, totaling fifteen publications. Behind Our Eyes members listened and also had time to ask each author questions after each presentation.

With over two hundred and seventy-three recordings, 2 published anthologies and an active writing community, Behind Our Eyes, a 501-C-3 nonprofit organization, is known throughout the United States as a respected resource for and community of writers with visual impairments.

Visit http://www.behindoureyes.org/wp/bookfair/ to read more and download this conference recording. Share it with your friends and newsletters, magazines, etc. Visit www.behindoureyes.org for contact or membership information or a form to offer feedback, ask questions, or join this amazing organization.

List of Presenters: Alice Massa, Peter Altschul, Joan Myles, Ann Harrison Barns, Carrie Hooper, Deborah Kendrick, Anne Chiappetta, Abbie Johnson Taylor,Lynda McKinney Lambert, and Marilyn Brandt Smith

PD Yellow lab Bailey lying next to water, blue sky above and his image reflected in the water beside him.

Maybe a Sign Would Help?

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs Relationships Writing Life

Today was the monthly meeting for the Westchester Council of the Blind of New York. We hold it at a house of worship, and we are very fortunate to be getting our space for free. While we were setting up and listening for members to come down the steps to our meeting room, a man appeared,
“Are you having a meeting for blind people?” he asked, sounding a little annoyed.
Yes, we said, this is where our meeting is.
“Oh,” he replied, “There are some people coming here, and they don’t seem like they know where to go, maybe you should put up a sign,”

Yup, folks, after he left, my colleague and I broke up laughing, then shook our heads, feeling quite sorry for the ignorant sighted person. We went to find our wayward members and led them to the room.

We could have felt angry, or upset, but this is nothing unusual for us. We did not allow this man and his inadequacies or annoyances to negatively affect us.
Furthermore, I don’t know how I can state this eloquently , but, well, a sign really won’t help the blind folks, only folks like this man, who came in, did not greet us or even introduce himself; by the way he sounded, he felt somehow threatened by the “blind people”, or he would have brought them with him instead of coming to the room to complain.

If you are still reading, this is more or less an average example of what we encounter from day to day. Sometimes we fair better, some days, the ignorance and uncaring attitudes seem to be everywhere. It’s no wonder 70% of employable blind people are not working; that people who lose vision and are over 50 struggle to remain independent; why guide dog users who are blind are denied ride share services 1 of 3 times despite policies adhering to the Americans with Disabilities Act laws.

We are a powerful group and yet we are a minority still grabbing and pulling ourselves up the wall of equal access and opportunity. We must help one another so we can be the change-makers, in our communities, Nationally, and worldwide.

Most importantly, don’t be like this man who did not say his name and was so off-putting with an attitude of annoyance; after reading this example, if you encounter someone who is blind, lost or looking for directions, work with them, ask how best to help, and go with it.

Are Those French Fries?

| Filed under blindness Guide dogs

Being a guide dog handler is probably the best choice I’ve made since going blind. It gives me much more than just a canine partner and increased safety. Sometimes it even brings comic relief.

A few months ago, I left work and walked around the corner to relieve my guide dog, Bailey. We began the usual routine, and then he started to do something odd, he lay down. I bent to try to make sure he wasn’t eating anything, and, being a Labrador, he sure was munching on something. I pulled him away and made him spit it out but he’d already swallowed it. I needed to know what was all over the sidewalk, so I got out my phone and called AIRA. The agent identified the scattered items through the camera on my mobile phone as French fries, to my relief. If Bailey was going to be corrected for temptation, I needed to know what had done the tempting. The agent’s quick and accurate scan of the area confirmed it was something that would not cause Bailey any harm. This helped me breathe a sigh of relief; it was only a few French fries. We could deal with it.

This is also a reminder that while Bailey has an advanced canine degree as a guide dog, he is still a dog and will give into temptation. The counterbalance to this is knowing that when he does his job, when he pulls us from a driver turning right on red as we try to cross a street, or when he shoves me away from the speeding bicyclist hurtling down the sidewalk, a few French fries is acceptable.

Nary a Backward Glance

| Filed under blindness Writing Life

The urge to take everything and leave was hard to fight after receiving the first letter, a two-week notice without it being labeled as such. Packing my belongings into shopping totes and cleaning my office of personal items was the only action I could take while awaiting the final letter and day. I was being removed, a most ironic clinically sterilizing verb, as if being diagnosed a malignancy. Treating me like a diagnosis rather than a person probably insulated the District team from feeling any remorse.

While I struggled to keep myself from crying, I sat while the director read the final decision letter to me. It was only two pages. The rest, he said, would be coming in the mail to my home. I wasn’t given time to take it in, maybe that was a good thing, because I left without telling anyone. I was able to call my husband and with only one extra trip to the truck, I dropped my keys, I.D. and agency mobile on my desk and left.