Numerous podcast thoughts, a thoughtful review of Timecrest and mixed life/school updates

In an episode of the This American Life podcast, its host Ira Glass talked about how our world has changed drastically within the past few weeks. The very first story that he tells us listeners, was a bit of small-talk with a medical professional regarding the Corona Virus. This medical professional that Ira was talking to, told him that the place where she worked has had patients stealing supplies that could help those people not get Corona Virus. And Ira Glass then goes into a somewhat similar story, in which a lady goes to several stores to try and purchase medical masks. But instead, what ends up happening, is that at one of the stores this lady goes to, she talks to a store employee who agrees to sell her masks under the table, so to speak. But to clarify what ‘under the table’ means, in case folks are unfamiliar with that term, it means that people agree to do things secretly. And this store employee that this lady had met up with even told the lady that if she wanted to purchase more masks from her (the store employee), she could do so again, also in secret.

The next story that Ira Glass talked to us listeners about, was one where he talks to a store cashier about how much the moods of the customers he sees, have changed in a negative way since the Corona Virus has become a nationwide emergency. The cashier tells a story about one customer in particular who was complaining unnecessarily about the way this cashier scanned the items this guy had purchased. And so, the way he (the cashier) describes it to Ira Glass, was to say that this customer became aggressive in a round-about sort of way. So instead of him asking the cashier outright why he (the cashier) was touching his drink cans in an unusual way, the customer decided to raise his voice to the cashier. And then in a similar story, this one also about workers dealing with customers, an airline employee talked to Ira Glass about how worried she was about how the Corona Virus could spread so much worse than it already has. She explained to him that she works as someone who has to clean airplanes, after people have traveled on them. And it just so happened to be that one of the most recent times that she’d cleaned an airplane, this specific plane had come from China. She tells Ira Glass that of course she’s scared about how bad the Corona Virus will get but that she has to focus on how best to survive, especially being that she has kids to raise.

In the next story on the This American Life podcast, a story is told about a sexual harassment case that went viral in North Carolina several years ago. The story started off being about one lady who’d had a repeated uncomfortable and otherwise toxic situation with a man who was supposed to inspect her house…but who’d ended up sexually harassing her. She walked the female reporter who was covering this story through how this man’s harassment was not always evident by the words that were coming out of his mouth; she then told the reporter that she felt at a loss because this man was literally the only person in her area who inspected people’s houses. And as this story continued, we the listeners learned that there were actually numerous cases of sexual harassment claims made by other women, regarding this same man. And in fact, this story became news in other places besides zNorth Carolina. And being a woman myself, it’s unfortunate I even have to say this…but stories like this one are common occurrences for us women. Hell, I’ve even written in my blog before, about some instances in my own life where I’ve received unwanted attention from grown men…and it fucking sucks!!

In the last segment of this episode of the This American Life podcast, a story is told about someone who’d worked for the US government…who essentially made information public that was not supposed to ever become public. But the way this story was told by guests on This American Life, was interesting because they presented things in the form of live theater…except it was a play on the radio. But anyway, the actors told this story…and to me, nearly all of the story felt awkward to listen to. Like, there’s just this feeling like something huge is about to happen, but no one knows what that thing is actually going to be or how dangerous it’s actually going to be. All I know as a listener, is that the woman that the FBI agents are questioning, seems like she wants to cry yet spew venom at each of them, at the same time. And the information that it turned out this woman had made public, was Russia’s involvement with the US election, which actually took place in our world in 2016.

I recently listened to an episode of the podcast called Invisibilia. This podcast is one I’ve enjoyed listening to for some time now. I vividly remember that Invisibilia was one of the very first podcasts that someone suggested I listened to, back in 2016. In fact I can even recall exactly where I was, when I’d started listening to podcasts: I was in a hospital in San Antonio, Texas as a patient. This was in October, before I’d even received the serious health diagnosis of Systemic Scleroderma. One of my friends suggested I listen to the podcast called Not So Black and White; this friend suggested this particular podcast to me because they knew that as someone in the LGBTQ+ community, I struggled with my sexuality, especially as someone who’d also grown up in a religion that was totally against any identity that was not heterosexual. And even though deep down, I felt disconnected from Christianity, I did appreciate that the hosts of the Not So Black and White podcast seemed to respect people who had different religious beliefs than they (the two hosts of this show) had.

But anyway, going back to the most recent episode of Invisibilia that I listened to: this particular episode told the story of a woman named Joy, who discovered that she had a special gift: she could sometimes see what was going to happen in people’s futures. More specifically though, Joy had been married to a man named Les who she’d had a fantastic relationship with. She and Les had kids together and they both thoroughly enjoyed the lives that they’d created for themselves. But things unexpectedly took a turn for the worst at some point, and it turned out that Les had Parkinson’s Disease. Now, I skipped a lot of details in this story; but the most important detail you folks need to know, is that Joy and Les had gone through tough times before Les had actually gotten a diagnosis. Joy explained to the host of Invisibilia that her husband Les had become an unrecognizable person as far as she was concerned, in terms of the way he acted and even in the way he smelled. Because as this story went on, I discovered that part of Joy’s gift was that her sense of smell was far more keen than smell typically is for human beings. And the reason that this is a significant detail in this story, is because Joy was able to smell the Parkinson’s Disease on her husband Les, before either of them actually knew what it was. Joy was even able to smell Parkinson’s Disease on other individuals…and this gift of hers was so accurate that she eventually started working with researchers. She’d use this ability of hers to determine who had Parkinson’s Disease and even to determine what stage people were in of this disease, at any given time. This story was heart-warming to me, in a refreshing way…and in fact, it made me thankful for the abilities that I have.

In another Invisibilia episode, there were a couple additional people who’d joined the show’s usual hosts. The reason for this change, was because this particular episode was about how racism affects the entire world. So the hosts of Invisibilia wanted to ensure that there were people on their team who were not just white folks. Because the whole topic of discussion was definitely going to be uncomfortable for people; that truth was unavoidable. But before I go on any further though, I want to say that listening to this Invisibilia episode really resonated with me. Because while I am a white person, I’m also someone who’s a member of several minority groups that all intersect with each other in some way, shape or form. I’m a woman, I identify as gay/lesbian, I’m an atheist, I’m childfree, I’m disabled, I’m a family of one and on and on and on. So I have understanding, from several different angles at that, of the shitty ways in which people can be treated differently, when something about those people seems foreign to another human being. And it sucks; but one thing that was said in this Invisibilia episode that’s stuck with me, was something along the lines of “human beings grow the most when we are forced out of our comfort zones.” And I wholeheartedly believe that this statement is true: and to be honest, having this belief in my own life, is exactly what drove me to take American Sign Language 101. I’m someone who loves to constantly challenge myself to do things that can be seen by some folks as being balsy. I love to push myself to go against the grain in ways that sometimes, not even I know what the exact outcome will be. Because to me, if you aren’t constantly evolving then you aren’t actually living. You’re simmply going through the motions every single day, letting life, and people, pass you by…with that truth likely not even crossing your mind. And as of a few years ago, I made a conscious decision about my own life, that I wanted to enjoy every single bit of life…even when times were hard for me. And I intend to continue living my life that way, until the day I die.

But to explain how this Invisibilia episode was structured, the hosts went to a camp located in Boston. This camp was meant for teenagers within racial minority groups or even minority groups for different sexualities, for all of these folks to have a safe space to be vulnerable. And when I say that these kids were vulnerable with one another, I mean that there were times within this camp gathering that ugly things were said about the assorted minority groups that were present in this space. So for example some of the black students said “fuck white people,” or “white people saying the N-word needs to stop.” And the idea behind why these teenagers were challenged to be brutally honest with everyone, was because this program was designed to educate teens on harmful behaviors like homophobia and racism/how those two things could really hurt others. And interestingly, by the time this camp had ended, the teenagers involved in it became even closer to each other than they’d initially been when this camp had first started. And as a listener, I could understand how hearing the harsh truths that were said in this safe space would be off-putting. But that being said, as a listener, I could also see how these teenagers had become more conscious thinkers by the time they were headed back home. Because the teens were literally forced to live in an uncomfortable situation, for more than just a few minutes.

Something else that also stood out to me about this Invisibilia episode, was the fact that it forced me to reflect on ways in which I used to be a hurt person who hurt other people. Like, I used to tell people in the LGBTQ+ community things like “just because you’re gay, doesn’t mean that you have to act on that information.” I literally became everything I now despise, due to having such internalized homophobia. I mean, I seriously wished that there would come a day when I could just wipe the gay out of my thoughts and out of my life as a whole. And like I’ve said in my blog in the past, my bio mom did everything she could think of to ‘make me straight’, including enrolling me in a daycare called Daystar Christian Academy. And honestly, that daycare was where I’d first heard of Stacie Orrico, Rachael Lampa and Jaci Velasquez (the female Christian Music Artists I still love to this day).. These three artists all had catchy song beats and each of their voices was different than anything I’d ever heard. But that being said, all three of these artists became crushes of mine, in a romantic sense. Like, I didn’t know about sex at that point in my life but I created a world inside of myself with Stacie, Rachael and Jaci all hanging out with me on a regular basis. And aside from the fact I did have a crush on each of them, I also didn’t have any friends in my real life…so I knew that I had to use my imagination to create some form of happiness for myself. But anyway, all this to say that being at Daystar Christian Academy didn’t make me become heterosexual; it just made me keep my homosexuality to myself, hence the internalized homophobia I’ve referenced numerous times in my writings here.

Since I wrote my last blog entry on Tuesday, I started reading the book that my ASL professor assigned us students to write a book report about. The book is called Triumph of the Spirit and it’s about a deaf person’s experience trying to figure out who they are, in a world that’s made for hearing people. But reading this book was so intense that I had to take occasional breaks from it and busy myself some other way; and what I mean by saying this book was intense, is that the main emotion I felt during it, was anger. I felt angry because as someone who has disabilities myself, I understand what it’s like to live in a world that constantly denies your existence. But that being said, I don’t want to say too much more about the book because I’ll post my book report on it once this semester is over. Although, I will say that I finished reading the book this past Thursday and that was also when I started writing the book report for said book. But first, I wrote down my ideas for the book report and then sent those ideas to a close friend of mine. And at that time, I didn’t have a clear vision of where exactly I wanted to go for this assignment; I just wanted to see whether the ideas I’d written down were received well by someone I care about. And then, once this close friend of mine had given me constructive feedback, I used that feedback to write the book report itself. And I finished it and submitted it to my professor around 10 or 11 Saturday night. I’m very proud of how this assignment turned out, most especially because it’s going to be physical evidence of all of the grueling work I’ve done for this American Sign Language 101 course. It’s going to be a memory of said hardship as well which I know will also bring a huge smile to my face.

Early Wednesday morning, someone from the main clinic I go to called me to suggest I not come into the clinic for my appointment the following day. I was told that instead, what would happen, is that my healthcare provider would call me to have our follow-up visit over the phone. And that was exactly what happened: the next day which was Thursday, my doctor and his staff called me. I had them make sure that I wouldn’t have any problems getting medication refills, as I definitely didn’t want to go through that kinda nightmare again. We also talked about how my ability to get to the clinic has been really iffy lately. So if I can’t figure out a better transportation option that’s reliable, I don’t know what’s going to happen.

On my personal FB page yesterday, I wrote an update that reads:
OK, I know it is well-meaning when people say “relax and spend the day with family…” but that is so dismissive of people with lived realities like mine. I am my family…and while I’m usually someone who enjoys my own company, I miss the physicality that being with friends new and old, provides. And so, while comments like “today is a day to count your blessings” are meant to be nice, personally, I think they suck…even though they aren’t directly speaking to me. I feel like when this is all over, I’ll be embarrassed to see people I know and care about because I expect I’ll be overly emotional. Maybe not…but those are my Sunday thoughts nonetheless…

Another thing that happened yesterday, was that I shared an article on my personal FB page that talked about how some churches are staying open, even though the world, at least here in the US, has been told to stay home. Someone commented on that post of mine, saying something like “there are also churches doing good things…but without religion, the world would have no morals. The response I wrote to that reads:
Actually, you are wrong. People would not be worse off, if religion disappeared. But preachers/religious folks, no matter what religion they are from, want you to believe that religion is what makes people moral. Newsflash, it isn’t! The main problem with this Christian centric world is that atheists/humanists don’t get any coverage for the amazing things that they are doing. They are helping people get food, opening up their homes, kitchens etc.; but you never read about that, unless you follow an organization like American atheists.
Someone who’s religious responded to that comment of mine, saying something like “people would be worse off, if religion didn’t exist.” I responded to that comment, saying:
You yourself did say that if religion disappeared, people would be a lot worse off. And I am saying that that simply is not true. That is what many religious folks want you to believe…just like many of them torment people with hell, to keep them in their religion.

Also yesterday, I wrote a review on the App Store for Timecrest which I gave a five-star rating because yes, this game really is that good!! What I wrote as the review reads:
I’ve been playing this game for over two years now…and it doesn’t get old. In fact, I’m still finding new things out, as I make different choices throughout it. As someone who has been blind all of my life and who’s always dreamed of being able to play a game that’s accessible with screen readers, Timecrest is that “wow” factor I’ve always dreamed of. It’s incredibly detailed, the design is easy to use, it isn’t clunky, nor does it lag with VoiceOver on my phone. I really appreciate the hard work that has been done for this game and continues to take place. Superb job!! I hope to be playing Timecrest for years to come 🙂

Speaking of Timecrest, the developers for said game have really continued doing what they can to make this game great. I mean, since they released a brand-new update earlier this month, I’ve noticed several things that they’ve either added since I last played the game in full or I used to play Timecrest so much that I remember which options I’ve chosen throughout the game…which is leading me to in turn discover new parts of the story. And this really makes me so happy because I seriously thought that I’d selected every possible option throughout the game to change the story/the way the story’s characters interacted with one another. So I guess the moral of this story is, don’t assume that you know everything there is to know about a game, just because you love said game so much. Instead, play the game to your heart’s content and be grateful for the fact you found a game you love, that never gets old.

Recently on Twitter, the R&B singer Kehlani tweeted that she’d had a planned release date for her upcoming album which sounded exciting. But I could tell even before I’d finished reading that tweet, that she had more to say on the subject. And what she ended up saying, was that with all of the craziness that’s going on in the world right now, she doesn’t even want to think about music. And as a huge fan of her music, reading that news was incredibly disappointing. But more than that, I felt deeply saddened. Because I feel like artists giving us fans new music to love during this time of isolation would help things be at least a bit more bearable. But then on the other hand, I also have to respect Kehlani’s decision. But then I think of the fact that there’s so many fucking ways for artists to release music nowadays, that for them to say they don’t want to release any music at this time, I feel that’s a cop-out.