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Seeing Eye, day 1

I am awake bright and early. We will see if I can write fast enough to tell all that there is to tell before the instructor knocks on my door an hour from now to do my building tour... I remember most of the details about getting around the building, but a tour will be good since things do tend to shift and change over time.

For future reference, it is a good practice to pack early. I didn't because I thought that it would be too "obsessive." I ended up scrambling around on Friday night, trying to fit in things that wouldn't fit, deciding what wasn't going to go, etc. I didn't get much more than a cat nap. I thought it would be no big deal--I could sleep on the plane.

It was a big deal. Either sleeping on planes is becoming more difficult as I get older, or planes are more uncomfortable, or both. I am inclined in this case to lean toward the plane being uncomfortable. It isn't that I expected a bed on the plane! However, I think that in a few years the planes may work like people compacters: fold us all up, warp to wherever they're going in a moment's notice, and then expand us back to normal size. I rode on an express flight, and I wondered how in the world a dog--even a small dog like my Meghan--would fit under those seats. The bags that meet the size allowances barely fit.

The flight attendant did not take my under-seat bag. i probably should have asked her to; but I crazily thought that I might slip a notebook out of it and dash off a journal entry if I could not sleep. As soon as I crammed it under the seat (which barely had room for a man's large feet), I knew that this would not be happening. My seatmate came with an armload of stuff and said huffily that my bag was in her space, asking if I could turn it. I apologized and tried; but I could not slide it over because the wheel of the plane protruded into my space. She launched into a diatribe about how my bag was too big and she was surprised they hadn't taken it away from me. I felt like she was reprimanding me for having dared to bring such a thing on board, and after about the fifth time she said it, I wondered if I was going to cry or ask her how many more times she was going to repeat this to me since she could put her own belongings in the overheads just as easily. By the time she moved to another seat, I was ready to hold her down and say, "I am sorry that I need xxx to arrive safely with me. I am not your little child." To quote my church history professor, what I was feeling was really "not very Church of God." Unfortunately, i didn't care. All I cared about was the fact that she was going on and on and that I thought someone should point out to her that she wasn't the judge of which bags made it through the size checker.

Once she moved, I began trying to come up with a way to stop thinking about her. With any luck, I'd never see her again. I didn't need the rest of my trip to be ruined by my un-Church-of-God feelings about her. However, lack of sleep tencs to amplify my emotional responses to things and my obsessive nature. I began to truly get on my own nerves.

I finally fell asleep. When I awoke, I hoped that I had managed to sleep through the flight and we would be on our way down. I hadn't. We were only twenty minutes out, and drinks were being passed out. I returned to my attempts to entertain myself. There was another student on my flight. I began to wonder about meeting her... Would we get along well, perhaps become friends? or would I still be obsessing about the rude lady with the armload of stuff and make the other student think that I am a nutcase who can't handle anything? After all, she has kids--Mom saw them. She's probably more mature than I am and has much more life experience... Oh, the silly tricks the sleep-deprived mind plays!

My tortured mind finally did allow me some peace, and we eventually landed. The other student and I stood in the jetway and introduced ourselves. Her name was Melanie, and she used to live in Texas. "I think I know you," she said. I began to put pieces together. "Was your maiden name Smith?" We were childhood friends at summer camp! In fact, we were inseparable. The experience with lady with the armload of stuff became a funny story. Melanie could certainly handle my quirks!

As Melanie and I shared our stories of the past 20 years, we discovered that our lives paralleled in many ways. I later learned that she is in the room next door to me. And miffis is across the hall. What better arrangements could I hope for to get my sleep-deprived brain back on track?

Dinner was roast beef with mashed potatoes, green beans, and garlic rolls. Dessert was chocolate mousse. Oh, I thought I had died and gone to heaven! I could have eaten six plates if Pete Jackson had not been sitting around waiting for me to go on my first "Juno walk."

We didn't do anything with dog commands last night. We just checked pace and pull. At some point, he slowed way down, and I said, "I don't like that dog at all." What I'd really like is a dog that works at a good rate that doesn't yank my arm off. I can slow down on bad pain days, but I want to be able to walk up when I can.

i don't know whether the home and away students get dogs today or tomorrow. I had heard that it would be today; but the instructors neer said anything about it. I will ask this morning. There are four home and away students; but it seems that some may be staying the whole time.

There are several young students in the class but also several older students. I love to be in classes where there is a good age range. I think it's very enriching. This evening's activity is a wine and cheese party. The young students are noticeably uncomfortable--the drinking age here is 21. It probably makes them feel their age, and I can certainly understand this. I am hoping there is some kind of food that I can eat...

I'm trying to do a bit of audio journaling at times. Mom saw me talking into the recorder at the airport yesterday and said that I looked like a spy. The next thing I knew, she was saying that she thought she had identified the other student on the flight. Who's spying now? (She was wrong, for the record.)

I think I may have beat the knock on the door. Today promises to be long and hectic. I will post more as I can. I do also have Hebrew to entertain me.


( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 27th, 2007 01:33 pm (UTC)
Glad you made it. Yeah, I agree that planes are becoming worse and worse. I hate those express-type things. At times like those, I think TSE has the right idea in breeding smaller dogs. Glaze is not that big--in fact, lots of people comment on how small she is, though I think this is partly because she's just not very long. Anyway, she has trouble getting into those spaces sometimes.

Just curious--how does the home and away program work at TSE? I have heard of it before. I know it's only for retrains, but I'm curious. I understand that you might not have time to answer soon. Good luck!

May. 27th, 2007 02:47 pm (UTC)
home and away
I think they may be doing more and more home and away, especially for situations where someone has had a dog before... I'm not positive about this, and it may be something they don't like to advertise; so I probably should not have said it here. I'm just not sure that it has never been done... I think that a good bit of it is dictated by individual circumstances and needs; but it seems that people in the program are staying two weeks and then have a trainer at home for the last few days. We do all the same stuff with the rest of the class but just do the last bit of freelancing at home. This has tremendous advantages in some ways.
May. 27th, 2007 03:26 pm (UTC)
Re: home and away
Thanks for answering. Feel free to delete this thread if you need to do that. I know you are kinda busy these days (grin), but when you have the time, would you be willing to email me about some questions I have? I am feeling really stuck, as it were, in terms of picking a school this time because of my crazy law-student schedule and the need to work during the summer. My email is glazeforward at mpmail dot net (I used words instead of the symbols, in case that isn't clear with your speech; I only mention this because I once tried to paste someone's address into an email when they'd written it this way). Thanks, and there's no big rush.
May. 27th, 2007 03:30 pm (UTC)
Re: home and away
Do you still have my phone number? I can't remember if I gave you home or cell, but my home number forwards to my cell anyway. You're welcome to call me and leave me your number if I don't pick up, and I'd be glad to chat with you. Or else drop me a line at sjblake at anderson.edu and I'll field questions for you. [hugs]
May. 27th, 2007 03:45 pm (UTC)
Re: home and away
Thanks. I couldn't find your number, so I just emailed you mine.
May. 27th, 2007 03:58 pm (UTC)
Re: home and away
Good luck picking schools! I didn't even know about the home and away program... I love Fidelco, but that would have been useful to know about... ah well...
May. 27th, 2007 04:07 pm (UTC)
Re: home and away
BTW, I'm still considering Fidelco. I appreciate the talks we had on the subject. But I want to know about all my options. It also might be the case that I decide I'd rather go to a full class anyway. But in case this isn't possible, I want to explore what's available. I have been thinking about Seeing Eye for some time now--for a few years. So it could be the case that I decide to try to go there somehow.
May. 27th, 2007 01:50 pm (UTC)
I'd do aaaaaaanything for a seeing eye meal right about now. Mmm.:)

Good luck!
May. 27th, 2007 10:18 pm (UTC)
Seeing Eye food
Today we had some yummy cake and rolls I can't describe, soup and weird sandwiches (tuna BLT0. The cake was the best part. I hope they do mousse again before I go home.
May. 27th, 2007 05:56 pm (UTC)
Glad that you got there safely. Hope that all goes well. Keep us updated when you can.
May. 27th, 2007 10:31 pm (UTC)
This evening's activity is a wine and cheese party.

Er, this is an activity TSE planned? For the first night of guide dog school, they planned an activity which they knew would inherently exclude a portion of their students?

It's not that big a deal or anything--the social aspect is peanuts next to the training aspect, obviously. I just find it a little thoughtless.
May. 28th, 2007 07:01 am (UTC)
the wine and cheese party
The wine and cheese event has been a tradition for years and years, and I suspect that it goes back as far as the organization's history. There is a good bit of stuff here that is based on building an image of blind people as people who are capable of interacting in high society. It was necessary in the organization's early history in order to promote access. It is not culturally necessary now, although I should note that a good portion of the students are people who are quite successful and have quite a bit of class. The young students were visibly uncomfortable with this event, and I understand why. I remember being here as the only student under 21 in 1991, and one of the other students was quite vocal about my underage status. I plan to bring this up in my exit interview. We don't need to be treating young students like unwelcome guests or tag-alongs. I don't really care how cultural a wine and cheese thing is. I think it promoted a huge diide--and this after we were discouraged from discussing religion earlier in the day. Go figure!
May. 27th, 2007 10:33 pm (UTC)
Also, for a second I got confused and thought you'd received a dog named Hebrew. :-D
May. 28th, 2007 07:03 am (UTC)
dog named Hebrew
Hahahaha! Now wouldn't that be fun! Hebrew, forward! I love it! When we did demo dogs, we practiced putting gentle leaders on a stuffed dog which Pete called Stuffer. I thought that was really funny for some reason. Stuffer could be a hilarious nickname for a food-scarfing lab, don't you think?

I really really should go back to bed... Mind if I friend you?
May. 29th, 2007 03:47 pm (UTC)
Re: dog named Hebrew
I think Hebrew would be a pretty cute name for a dog, actually. Stuffer...not so much. :)

Sure, you're welcome to friend me.
(Deleted comment)
May. 28th, 2007 03:34 pm (UTC)
dog, forward
I just got to put the gentle leader on Stuffer again. Stuffer had a harness on this time. Stuffer, forward.
May. 29th, 2007 03:49 pm (UTC)
German actually wouldn't be bad for a male dog! But probably a bit over the top for a GSD. :)

You're welcome to friend me if you'd like.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )


Sarah Blake LaRose
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