10 Things I can’t Do That You Probably Could

I am visually impaired. I have vision loss. I am disabled… I think those are all the euphemisms I can think of to use in place of “I don’t see like everyone else.”

Now, I can go into a long explanation of why I don’t see well, but let’s save that for a rainy day. And if you are thinking, “Leen, why don’t you just wear glasses,’ I will have to save the answer to that for another time. But for now, I don’t think the “why” is what matters. All that really matters are the facts on the ground. I wanted to give you all a little insight (pun very much intended) into my daily struggles.

So, here it goes. 10 things that you probably do everyday, that I can’t.

PREFACE: This isn’t designed to make you feel bad or guilty. And I am super thankful for the blessings that I do have everyday that outweigh all the trivial stuff you are about to read.

Here we go.

1) Eating at a Fast Food Restaurant I’ve Never Been to Before
“Uhm, excuse me…uhm do you have a handheld menu by any chance?” If I had a
dime for every time I had to ask that question, I’d be able to afford eating
somewhere way better than a fast food restaurant… So if it’s McDonald’s or subway
then it’s all good, but going to a fast food place I’ve never been to before can
be a challenge. The menu on the wall behind the counter is too far away to read,
and most “associates” working the register get fed up with all the menu questions.
I tend to get a lot of exasperated looks from these people and a response like,
“ma’am, it’s all up there behind me,” and I have to say, “I’m sorry I don’t see very well.”  I almost always end up with some kind of chicken sandwich.

2) Using a Laptop on My Actual Lap
Aaah the laptop. Man’s modern-day invention. Making the world of email, word processing and social media a whole lot more accessible… Yeah not for me. Although I use laptops on a daily basis, I can’t put it on my lap while resting my back against my headboard all comfy in my bed. Usually that type of “comfort” requires several pillows on my lap and a whole lot of neck craning.

3) Watching A Movie With Subtitles
The world seems obsessed with Bollywood movies. Sadly, this is not a joy I can partake in. Subtitles are a no-no for me. Unless I want to stay glued 2 inches from the screen the whole time, it’s just not happening. This goes for ALL foreign films. It’s pretty disappointing to because watching foreign films is the one thing missing from my hipster repertoire.

4) Placing My TV Anywhere I want
You move into a place, you look around the living room and think, “I’ll put the TV over there.” Oh the freedom you must have when arranging your living room, knowing that you will be able to see the TV no matter where you put it. Knowing you can come home from work, lay down on the couch and watch your DVRed programming all the way across the room. In my world, the TV MUST be close enough to a couch where I can sit AND watch TV at the same time. Most of the time this is impossible, and I have to end up sitting on the floor in front of the TV. And laying down on the couch and watching TV??? Forget it; that’s just a pipe dream.

5) Crossing a Busy Street on a Sunny Day
I do this all the time, but usually when I do, I am relying on my other senses and common sense. A part of my vision impairment involves high sensitivity to bright sunlight or fluorescent lights. Sometimes a stoplight can turn red or green, and I just have no idea. Thank God I haven’t been hit by a car or anything. And luckily my other senses are pretty sharp, so there you go.

6) Following a Power Point Presentation
Don’t get me started on my college career. If it wasn’t Power Point, then it was that damn overhead projector. Lucky for me I am a beast at dictation, listening and note taking (wow I could be a Girl Friday).

7) Getting Picked Up By A Strange Car
Man does this cause a hell of a lot of anxiety. At times, friends or family pick me up from places driving a car I’ve never seen before or I am not too familiar with. I can’t see the person driving the car, so I rely heavily on recognizing the car. Well this goes out the window if I don’t already KNOW the car. I usually need a lot of description of where the car is parked.

Me: Is that you? Driving up now?… Wait, that’s NOT YOU? Oh crap, ok. … You’re next to that white van? Oh ok….. Oh not that van? oops….. Oh oh okay I see you now.

It all works out fine in the end.

8) Picking Out Clothes and Knowing What Color They Are
For all intents and purposes, I am color blind. I see shades of colors but not tones. Therefore, when buying clothes, I am at a loss when it comes to the colors. You probably don’t realize this, but A LOT of stores have the colors written on the tags. This is very useful to me, especially because I prefer to wear certain colors (hey just because I can’t see them all, doesn’t mean I can’t favor a few over others). Sometimes I take a shirt home and find out it’s neon yellow. I usually return those (but that rarely happens). I’d like to make it clear that I do put all my own outfits together, and think I have a pretty good sense of fashion. You’d be amazed at what you can do even when you are color blind.

9) Playing Laser Tag
Ok so I am assuming this isn’t an everyday occurrence for you. You probably haven’t played laser tag since like the 8th grade, but I’ve never played it EVER. If I can’t see colors on a piece of fabric, forget about seeing different colored lights in the dark that I am supposed to zap with my laser gun (that’s how you play, right?)
When I was in the 9th grade, we took a field trip to a laser tag place. I hung out at the restaurant, playing Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know” on the juke box over and over again, and eating fries.

10) Sitting Anywhere in the Movie Theatre
So I guess this is sorta similar to putting the TV anywhere I want in my living room. But having this challenge in the theatre takes it to a whole new level. I Just paid like 15 bucks to watch the second Hunger Games movie, I sure as hell better
be able to see the freaking movie. And going with people who “have to sit in the back row” is a special kind of personal hell for me. I do have to say though that my friends are pretty chill about where we sit, and I try my best to accommodate then as they try to accommodate me. We usually end up seated in the middle of the theatre. That works.

~~Leen J.

A Cold Housewarming

It’s been two weeks since I’ve moved into my new place. It’s great. It’s over 1100 square feet, AC, and the best roommate I could ever ask for, my sister :) And, to help cozy up the place, my sister and I threw a small party at our place a few nights ago. We might have invited 20 people, and about half showed up. All of them were my sister’s guests, with exception to one. I had one guest show up. Well, unless you include my older sister who technically is both our guest. So, yeah I only had one show up.

I know this isn’t a reflection of me or the wonderful person I am :) But it is a reflection of how selfish people really are. SOME of them, JUST some have plausible and legitimate excuses (of course those are the ones who actually provided excuses). Some of them do make a sincere effort to come to things they are invited to. And if this is the one event they couldn’t come to, I totally understand. And I think those wonderful people know who they are. But in most cases, the excuses people provide are just that, excuses. I think it’s really sad when people use their kids, their husbands, or distance to cover up the real reasons they “can’t” come to your party….they really just don’t care enough.

Yeah well these individuals would argue that saying the above statement is unfair or just not true. But the truth of the matter is, if they really were interested in coming, they would show it. they would make an effort, at least. You know what kills me? I don’t drive. In fact, I CAN’T drive. But no matter what, I always make an effort to attend parties, go to meetings, be there at people’s weddings, etc. I don’t flake out just because “I’m too scared to drive on the highway,” or “because you live too far,” or “because I have the sniffles,” or “because I don’t like the other people you invited.” And what’s even worse are the people who don’t even respond to your invitation as if they are too busy to give a damn.

Man, if you even knew the parties I attended when I was sick or when I needed to study for an exam or lived an hour away and needed to take 2 busses and a train to get there or when I was freshly divorced and frankly DIDN’T want to go to any stupid celebration. But the thing is, people don’t try to even understand your valid reasons nor do they understand your sacrifice to support them. But I guess this is something I learned in my 20’s.

So to those who use everything under the sun to explain away why you can’t be there for me: I don’t care. I reject your “reason.’ Oh and don’t be surprised when I don’t show up to your next shin dig or whatever. I’m not angry or unmerciful. I love these people and always will, but I am just going to start getting my priorities straight. That’s all.

Ok, great. Thanks.

~~Leen J.

Top 10 Reasons Why I Hate Going to Weddings!

Don’t get me wrong. I totally understand and condone the reasons people have weddings. They are meant to be celebratory, and in many cases, these weddings are important to make vows to the Lord, and in this way, they are very significant. Hey, I loved my wedding 4 years ago. I even loved the man I married that day. But regardless, I HATE attending these types of events NOW.

And here is why….

10) Wedding Food

9) Hideous bridesmaid dresses

8) Wedding singers/DJ’s

7) People saying things like “I hope you’re next.”

6) Knowing that 50% of all marriages end in divorce and knowing that the couple getting married is hoping to be part of the “successful” 50%.

5) Super corny speeches — I know from personal experiences that what people say at your wedding can be completely contrary to how they REALLY feel about your nuptials. Unfortunately, I had to learn this lesson the hard way.

4) Bridezilla’s. Just because you are the effin bride, that doesn’t mean you have the right to treat everyone like crap.

3) The constant silent ridicule you get when you walk into the room. Your dress, hair/scarf, make-up, and marital status are ALL up for criticism.

2) Naughty children – and even naughtier parents. I HATE when parents let their 3-year-old monster get a seat while an adult is still looking around for an empty chair.

1) Forcing, faking a smile of happiness when you know that this entire wedding was just put on as a show; a braggy way to tell their guests “hey we are better than you. We have money and love, so we beat you in all facets of life.” From close friends to family members to people I hardly even know, I have seen this showy display of immodesty that disgusts me! Hence, I will not be attending anymore of these parties. But good luck to all the couples!

Leen J.

Who is the ‘Bad Guy’?

We have been brainwashed to believe that good always wins out over evil. This problem stems from television and storybook fairy tales and movies and just about any form of entertainment media. We are told that karma always finds its target, what goes around comes around, and the good guy will always get their happy ending.

This may make for good storytelling, but not a very practical guide to the way the world works. I think growing up in this world where children tend to watch television and movies more than play outside, we grow up with this notion that the universe somehow evens things out to make them fair, to make the good guy win. The princess always gets saved and the evil witch is destroyed and the ‘good guy’ lives happily ever after. And of course, in our own personal tales, we are always the ‘good guy.’


Don’t get me wrong, no one wants to be entertained by books and movies that don’t have a happy ending. No wants to see the ‘bad guy’ win and the virtuous fail. But the truth of the matter is that sometimes the bad guy does win and the rest of us have to just accept that. This doesn’t mean that God isn’t fair. I believe that He does even things out, and if not in this lifetime then in the next: in the hereafter. This is why He asks us to be patient and to have faith in Him. Because things are not always fair in THIS life, and we will just have to accept our loses sometimes. These loses tend to teach us so many lessons, and again many of us never learn those lessons. But I digress.

Really, it just pains me that everything we’ve been forced fed growing up has told us that the ‘bad guy’ always gets his comeuppance, and you will always be vindicated somehow. But my question is, what if we don’t get our happy ending? What if the antagonist wins and keeps winning and never sees the error of his ways? What if he continues living happily and stubborn and never sees the bad things he’s done, never seeing the effect it has had on you, the ‘good guy?’ And what if his pride is too great, that he can never say he was wrong or never feels guilt, and even worse, never suffers any punishment or repercussion of any kind for the mistreatment of you or others? And even worse still, if we the ‘good guys’ don’t get our happy endings, if we don’t see justice for the mistreatment we endured, or are never vindicated, what does that say about us? If everything we have been indoctrinated with through TV and movies has told us the ‘good guy’ wins, and we don’t win, then are we really the ‘good guy?’

Or are we the ‘bad guy?’

~~Leen J.