Hi there. It’s me, the biggest absentee blogger in history. Since I started going back to the office, even though I have more energy thanks to ol’ Santa the CPAP machine, I can’t seem to find the time to write, even though I have a great heap of ideas.
So…um…it’s 2024. I say this every year, but the years go faster and faster. I feel like we were just doing this, and here we are again.
What can I say about 2023. It definitely was a mixed bag, but I guess that’s the way life goes. On the positive side, I got Domino. Yeah, about that! I have to write one of my doggy deluges to catch you up on how he’s doing. It’ll probably take several posts. I also have been going back to the office, which has been doing me a lot of good because I’m actually seeing more people. It’s not as good as I had hoped because you never know who will be there each day, but it definitely is getting me out and bopping around, which is rebuilding my confidence.
On the less awesome side, Dad has been having lots of health struggles. Thankfully he got through his cancer scare, but cancer is kind of like that evil doll from the horror movies. You just think you’ve gotten rid of it when it shows up again, and you never know when that will happen. I’m trying not to think like that, but it’s hard.
Even without his cancer, he keeps having health problems. It’s scary to watch your parents get older and be less rock-solid. It’s the natural order of things, but it’s not fun.
I also had it brought home that you never know when you’ll lose someone. I went to the CSUN Assistive Technology conference last March for the first time since 2019. It was nerve-wracking, but lots of fun. But I found out that Joseph O’Connor who I met at CSUN years ago had passed away back in 2020 and I had no idea. There was an early morning session that I didn’t attend, going over people who had been there through the years, and I guess his death was mentioned. Then I went to lunch with a colleague and said “I wonder if Joe O’Connor is here!” My colleague had gone to the session, and had to tell me he had passed away. He always was so kind and passionate about WordPress accessibility, and of course, he was a big part of the ‘Woman! Turn around!’ story. He celebrated the solstace, so I will always think about him on that day. But the point is he had been gone for 3 whole years and I had no idea.
I guess he had proposed a presentation idea about making your funeral services and grave site accessible, and it was rejected, even though I thought it was something that should be talked about. You can tell he knew the end was near and really wanted to make things as easy as possible for his daughter. It was so much more than some dry presentation about theories about how to make things accessible. He had examples that made the whole thing very real.
I didn’t talk to him as much as I wanted to, and I will always regret that. It just reminds me that I never know when I will lose someone.
I’m happy I went to CSUN, but I really hate airports. They bring out the absolute worst in me. People are so focused on trying to get to their gate that they’d bowl you over on their way through. Even the people pushing people in wheelchairs would just run you over instead of watching where they’re going. The employees see a blind person and lose their mind. They either treat us like cargo, or panic that they might have to do more than point and mime what they want. One flight attendant pleaded with colleagues of mine to switch seats so my colleagues would be right with me in case there was an emergency. And what would they do if I was flying alone? The airports are more short staffed, so they have kiosks that aren’t designed accessibly, and we’re expected to use them. And this is all happening while we’re trying to get somewhere. It’s gotten so bad that if I’m travelling with people, I warn them in advance that I might get surly in the airport. I try my best not to, but inevitably something pisses me off.
And it’s not just the airport. The airport is a special kind of hell, but I’m finding more and more that people everywhere are getting less communicative. Throughout the pandemic, people talked about how we missed social connection. It sure doesn’t look like anybody misses it by the way they all have headphones on and have their heads buried in their phones. If I try to speak to most people on the street, I get silence in return. Sometimes I want to bonk into one of them accidentally on purpose and then remind them that I had said hello to them 3 times and most people actually answer back. I sometimes wonder if there’s a language barrier, but it’s just as likely to be an English-speaking person as someone who speaks English as a second language. When I go into stores, there’s no one around to ask for help, and if there is, they just sit there and stare at me, hoping that maybe I will spawn some eyeballs and know that they’re there, or they expect me to make eye contact. If people want me to move, instead of saying “Can you move to the left?” they grumble indecipherable noises behind me. I can tell they’re discontented, but I have no idea why or at whom. This is the world in which I find myself, and it makes me sad and on edge all the time. I want something that resembles what we used to have. It wasn’t perfect, but it was a damn sight better than what it is now.
Gaaa! I sound like an old lady! I guess I am one. But there’s still lots of fun to be had. Our nephews always make us laugh. Seppa is always amazing us with his skills with math, or maff as he puts it. He even kind of knows what prime numbers are! He’s always asking us for the definitions of words, and surprisingly hard questions that don’t seem hard at first. The other day, I was trying and failing to explain time zones to him. And…and…we are reaching the end of an era! Soon he will no longer call me Aunt Carrot! He’s figuring it out! Sukie is smart as ever, and is into Harry Potter. That kid can read like a fiend! And I realize that I’ve never given the other nephews nicknames up here. Let’s call them Kliks and Bricks. Kliks was actually the first nephew, but I just called him the nephew. Then Seppa came along, and then Sukie, but I didn’t see Kliks as much so I couldn’t come up with a nickname for him. Then his little brother, let’s call him Bricks, came along. So what can I say about Kliks and Bricks? Klicks is amazed by Steve’s ability to chase him around even though he tries not to make a sound. He always hopes that I’ll bring “Um…what’s his name? Uncle Steve! Yeah!” whenever I come home for holidays. I don’t think he thinks I’m nearly as cool. Bricks is the smallest of the nephews, and I think he struggles to fit in, but he tries his best. He loves animals and even though he’s quiet, he’s always thinking.
So here comes 2024, for better or for worse. I hope we all have a great year full of all the good things we can wring out of it.