Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Seeing Things in a New Way

I am writing this today because a friend of mine and her serious eye problems have been much on my mind of late. Also, most of my current editing clients are blind, so I think a lot more about eyes and eye health and blindness these days than I used to in years past.

My friend has to have surgery soon on her left eye for very extreme glaucoma; if she does not, she will lose her sight in that eye. The glaucoma came many years after an injury to that eye; some kid threw a rock and hit her in the eye.  She has suffered from that injury ever since, and she’s now middle-aged.

When I was in 5th or 6th grade, a kid named Kevin threw a rock that hit me in my left eye, too. But it did not affect my vision. I do remember, though, that it hurt, frightened, and angered me. The eye bothered me for some time after that, but it eventually got well.

Kevin was quite troubled, I think – although I don’t know if that was the standard term for children with emotional problems back in the 1950s. He was an only child. His mother was poor and single, and she died not long after the rock-throwing incident. Our class had to go to her funeral. I remember the boy crying bitterly, all broken down with grief and probably fear.  He was left an impoverished orphan.

Kevin left our school after his mother's death.  I hope he had relatives to go to, that they treated him well, and that he became happier and better adjusted. I remember him as a skinny, poorly dressed kid who did badly in school and had no friends.

Why he threw the rock at me, I don't know. I was not his friend, but neither was I his enemy. In general, I tried hard to be nice to others if they were nice to me, and I tried to stay out of the way of the others. No one seemed to want to even try to befriend Kevin.

I have often thought of him in the decades since then, and I have often wondered what became of him. I was and am sorry for him. Nonetheless, I am glad, of course, that he did not injure my eye badly. I have glaucoma, but it’s a mild case, well controlled with medication (Combigan drops), and I assume it is unrelated to any past injury. I’m now 68, so some eye problems are to be expected.   

In addition to her physical problems, my friend with the very serious glaucoma is also out of work right now. She lost her last two jobs -- or rather, she lost one and had to quit the other -- due to eye pain and stress. Her eye is in really, really bad shape; that’s plain to any observer. It must hurt a lot. So, after her surgery, she will have the urgent need to try to find another job. What a dual burden to have to try to bear by herself! She is unmarried and has no children.

My husband and I have certainly had our share of problems, some of them physical. I have had nine major operations in my lifetime, and I’m a 16-year breast cancer survivor. David has had a few physical problems of his own, but at 70, he’s in great shape, and he has none of the chronic health problems that so often plague men of his age: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart trouble, diabetes, etc.

So very often, I have to consider how fortunate we are compared to so very many others -- and I don't mean just miserable, poverty-stricken people in third-world countries. I mean people whom we know personally, middle-class people with good educations who have fallen on hard times of various sorts. It often makes me very sad, because I can usually do nothing to alleviate their problems except be their friend.

I hope that my friendship is of some help to the woman who needs the eye operation, which she will have soon. Then I hope she recovers well and rapidly, and that she can find a new job very soon, as well.

I cared about her and her fate before all this, as I have known her for some time, and I care even more now. Looking back across the decades, I know that my long-distance caring about Kevin cannot help him (if he’s even still alive), and I doubt that I or my family could have done much for him back then, either. But the odd, coincidental connection between him, my eyes, my friend, her eye, and the stories behind the blindness of some of my editing clients has made me think a lot these past several days and weeks. It has made me see several different things in new and different ways.

If you have been so kind as to read this far, please go here to see the website of our latest blind client, Patty L. Fletcher:  www.dvorkin.com/pattyfletcher/

Her book Campbell’s Rambles: How a Seeing Eye Dog Retrieved My Life, will be published by Aug. 1, 2014 or before. Her blindness was partially caused by glaucoma, as well.

Go here to see some recent pictures of my husband and his astonishing physique, the result of almost 50 years of weight training. Click on the photos to see them larger. My favorite is the photo of him in the red shirt.


Monday, May 19, 2014

In Celebration of the 5th David’s Liberation Day

Five years ago today, on May 19, 2009, David lost his last full-time job, at the age of 65. At the time, he was a Senior Tech Writer at Quark, Inc. It was the highest-paid job he had ever had.

On 5/19/09, he and several of his colleagues all lost their jobs with no warning and very small severance packages. It was literally “Out the door you go!” right away.

At the time, of course, it was very scary to us. There followed numerous steps and phases, both work-related and psychological. That is, over a period of at least three years, David went from seeking (but failing to find) more full-time work, to looking for (and getting) a few short contract jobs, to deciding that he would do contract work but only if he could fulfill the contract working from home, to deciding that he would do no more tech writing at all. He will still accept short programming (development) contracts, but again, only if he can fulfill them remotely. He hated office work and will never, ever, ever go back to that. Nor would I ever want him to.

Now, five years later, we see that 2009 job loss as one of the best things that ever happened to him and to us as a couple. That’s because it was the first step, albeit a forced one, on his long road to a far better life and much greater happiness than he had ever known before.

Now David is a very healthy 70, with the security of Social Security and Medicare (thank you, Democrats of yore!), the ability to sleep almost every morning until he wakes up naturally, the freedom to write and exercise as often as he likes, and the freedom to publish his own books as soon as he gets them written, thanks to self-publishing.

In addition, he and I have a thriving new career editing the books of other authors and getting them published via Amazon, CreateSpace, and Smashwords. Details: http://www.dvorkin.com/ebookpubhelp.html

Life is good, our 46-year marriage is happier than ever, and retirement from office bondage is WONDERFUL!

I just noticed, looking at David: He looks at LEAST five years younger than he did five years ago. That's what the lack of stress and enough sleep will do for you.

Happy retirement to any readers of this for whom that blissful stage of life is coming soon.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

“Lean Style”

My Japanese ESL student (yes, she's in Tokyo) is fond of talking about doing everything "lean style." I assume she is referring mainly to doing things efficiently, with no frills or waste. I like that.

I also liked the very yummy and healthy lunch I just had.  To explain: I am working hard to lose weight and to lower my blood sugar, but also to make sure I have plenty of energy for my almost daily workouts. I always do some combination of weight training, walking, using the exercise bike and/or the treadmill, and stretching. 

Last night at the very good Rosemary Cafe (in SW Denver, at Sheridan and Evans), we had their great buffalo burgers. They are very good about serving them to us as requested, on rye toast with the onions grilled, vs. on a regular soft hamburger bun with raw onions. You get lettuce, tomato, and pickle with that, too, also soup, salad, or potato. Last night, I had a cup of very good clam chowder. 

We always take half of any restaurant meal home and order no dessert.

SO, for lunch, I just had half the burger and a delicious salad of mixed greens, fresh pineapple from Costco, about a Tbs. of crumbled bleu cheese, and a bit of ranch dressing. I topped it off with a small glass of milk with stevia-sweetened whey protein powder, which I buy at Sprouts.

I am feeling very good these days if I make just about every meal follow the older-style food pyramid: with some protein, some carbs (a starch, such as bread), at least one vegetable, some fruit, and some dairy, but with no sweets. I feel strong and healthy, and my weight is decreasing. I feel that I'm doing great for 68!

A Video about Christine McDonald’s Political Success

Yesterday, I posted about my editing client Christine McDonald (author of CRY PURPLE) and her efforts to get a harsh Missouri law repealed. Here is a link to a news video about her,  the law, and its repeal. In the video, she is wearing her prosthetic eyeballs. She lost her vision and her eyes to a disease. 

Congratulations to her!


Friday, May 16, 2014

Some Political Success for Our Most Successful Editing Client


This is great news!

Our most successful blind editing client is Christine McDonald, author of the powerful autobiography CRY PURPLE, about her 17 years as a street-corner prostitute and drug addict and her recovery from all that. She now lives in St. Charles, MO, but was in Kansas City all during that low period of her life.

However, this post is about something other than her personal life.   

For years, Christine has been working to get a harsh Missouri ban lifted: the lifetime ban on food stamps for drug felons.

At long last, her determined efforts have been crowned with success. Here is an article about her and the ban from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:


I am very happy for her and for all the people that the lifting of this ban will help. Her success proves the value of perseverance.

Her book, CRY PURPLE, is available in e-book and paperback formats on Amazon and other online buying sites. I edited the book, and my husband, David Dvorkin, designed the striking cover.  For details, see: www.dvorkin.com/cmcdonald/