Perkins Career Launch Day 2

Introduction

Hey guys!

It has been forever since I’ve last posted about my time at Perkins last June. To recap, please see my post about test drive two, day one, here.

https://mirandaleeoakley.com/2019/06/17/test-drive-2-day-1/

For a brief post about some funny moments that happened throughout the week, see

https://mirandaleeoakley.com/2019/06/29/funny-moments-at-perkins/

I have very purposefully waited a while to post about the rest of my experience with the test drive. I wanted to give enough time after my time at the school to make sure my thoughts and feelings were still the same. While we can’t control how others respond, I wanted to give people who might read this time, too. Let’s be clear. Perkins has done a lot for me and I appreciate all of it. I too, have done a lot for them, so I know from personal experience how the school has evolved. Last June taught me firsthand how Perkins has completely changed. I know I am taking a risk here because let’s be honest, it’s Perkins. Openly discussing flaws about such a famous school can have a lot that comes with it. I’d rather people know the truth and not support something then donate because they were given false ideas. I’m not always right, but people have shared my feelings behind closed doors so I know I’m not alone in my thoughts. I pray they get to a place where they can share their feelings. I’ll gladly be the first one to speak out about it. I’d like to thank my friends, Kaylan and Amber, for their support and lending me an ear as I worked through how to put all this together. I didn’t want people to think I was just upset, tired (hardly slept there! All of us found the beds EXTREMELY (in caps for anyone who is blind) uncomfortable) and not taking the new changes well after being away for so long. When you have a disability, you learn people are often quick to hear what you say and automatically start coming up with thousands of reasons why you’re saying what you’re saying. Who can relate? Comment and tell me about it. I still have the same feelings and questions now as I did during the test and after I left. I took a ton of notes and have gone through them all and will do my best to take you through each day. As a writer, it’s my responsibility to share as much as I can and also in tricky topics like Perkins, (or any situation for that matter) to cover both sides of situations the best I can. This will be a longer post, but let’s break it down. I have broken it into sections so you can find topics should you need to finish reading this later. Like I have stated, this was a test, so what they were going over with us was to be taught at a later developed program in September. This test was to get feedback on what worked and what didn’t so they could go ahead with their launch. If anyone is interested in the program, you can find information about it online, along with information about the staff.

 

Opening and September Program Description

Every morning we started the day with an opening question that was given to us to reflect upon the day before. This particular morning though, we had a conversation about our strengths. I thought this was a good idea because it started the day off on a positive note. It reminded me of one of my favorite people working at the school in Secondary Program (Perkins high school for those who don’t know) who always began our group class (where a few of us would talk about our feelings and give ideas on how to support each other) with having all of us go around and say something positive happening in our life. Even if we were going through a rough patch, she kindly understood, but gave us time to come up with something even if it meant sharing last. I’ll talk about Jen a few times throughout this. I said so many times throughout the week to Amber that Jen should have helped run the program because it wouldn’t be such a mess. Not just because she’s so awesome, but because if anyone had her lead your IEP, (individualized educational plan) you know exactly what I’m talking about. For everyone else, I always felt like she was very organized, clear about expectations and whether she agreed or not, she was always respectful and never mean. During our conversation, we were given a little time to speak in order to stay on schedule but we didn’t always stay exactly on schedule. I spoke about how I felt like I have good communication skills and am good at building relationships. Amber talked about being able to listen to people and relate to them. Each staff person taught different lessons. It seemed like, though, that one had the most which was interesting. We’ll call her A.

 

They explained to us that the program would give young blind and visually impaired adults the opportunity to learn and practice interview skills so they can land employment. For anyone who doesn’t know, the unemployment rate for the blind is ridiculously low. Amber and I felt like a lot of what we were learning was things we learned in college, (minus the blindness specific things) but I’m glad I had the experience. They talked about the importance of thinking about the way you answer questions in job interviews to show you have confidence. People with disabilities always have to sell themselves in life and interviews are no different. Sure, sighted people need to stand out too, but it’s completely different when you are blind. We spend our whole life proving we belong and I pray this changes someday. Thank God for the few people you have who you don’t have to sell yourself to. And if you don’t have those people in your life yet, I pray you find them. They came for me. They’ll come for you.

 

We were supposed to visit a company to learn about their work and hear answers to questions but that never happened, so they replaced that with testing another of their lessons. This was good to a degree but appeared to be a last-minute decision. A lead discussions often and we were only aloud to ask questions at the very end with only a few minutes left. Even though this was a test, I felt this was not handled well at all. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’m not always right, but think about this. If a company backs out, and your back up plan doesn’t work out, you should have a plan c or a plan d. If those don’t work out, okay fine, but people with disabilities have to do this all the time. In fact, we plan so much sometimes we need to be reminded to live. Sighted people don’t plan the same pile of stuff we do. One time in college I was planning out hours with one of my readers because I needed to tell people about them. She asked if we could take it week by week rather than planning so far ahead. Sometimes planning ahead is great, and sometimes you have to slow down. Sometimes yes, life happens. But, when you’re planning a program like this, you need to plan things out and not fly by the seat of your pants all the time. I cannot tell you how many times staff would fly by the seat of their pants. They often would talk in front of us about what to do because something didn’t work or something was off schedule. I know it was just starting and nothing is perfect, but you can only take that so far. And not for nothing, but this is Perkins. Maybe they really are losing money, but really? The problem is, all of the staff in this program were very new to the school and it was very obvious they weren’t aware of the resources around them. We certainly want to give people a chance to learn blindness, but we also need to be smart about who belongs in the field and who really shouldn’t be there. I’m not trying to attack anyone. I’m strictly talking professionalism here. Perkins loves marketing. Having been one of their poster children, I know all too well how they use the blind kids to make people consider being generous with their money. If they can have marketing come to give out free pizza and take photos to make the program look a certain way, they could have worked with marketing to make visiting a company a reality. All they have to do is put out an email or a call to marketing. It’s good PR for the test drive and for the actual program. This is part of why things should have been planned way earlier. Perkins also happens to have a ton of volunteers who could have helped out if this was planned correctly. This isn’t about myself or anybody else being entitled, but it really doesn’t make your program look very good. I realize some people might read this and think I’m complaining (or anyone else who speaks up about this program) but I’m just trying to play devil’s advocate here. If people with disabilities are always expected to plan everything and always expected to be organized, why is the expectation different for staff? I’ll say that again. If a blind person discussed ideas with a person providing services to them ever shared ideas but they were a mess because the person was still working through them, we would never hear the end of how we need to be more organized and plan better. Then they would talk about all the skills we needed to improve on.

 

They talked about recruiting and about the questions employers may ask to make sure interviewees are best fit for the position, and what employers are looking for from the people they hire. They wanted everyone to think about questions such as how does this information help me, my resume, and my interview skills? What is the company looking for, and how am I matching that? They talked about the importance of asking questions and engaging in your interview.

 

Hearing From Perkins Panelists

Next, we listened as a panel of mostly sighted staff talked about job experiences. Again, A did most of the asking and wanted to move very quickly. I personally wish we had a little more time with certain speakers. I will say though, even though some of us struggled with A, in a way I do feel for her a little bit. It had to have been really hard to be A. Even though she wasn’t always nice to people, she (and others too) were pretty clueless about the population they were working with. You could clearly tell the staff didn’t quite understand the difference between total blindness and visual impairment. I don’t want to excuse anything, but I also want to acknowledge how hard it must have been to always wonder if you’re sticking to your schedule.

 

The panel consisted of a security director (we’ll call her Carley), while another trained in assistive technology, (we’ll call them Peter) and another a patient communication manager. They took photos with A, the director of the program, (we’ll call her Megan. Anyone using Jaws, enjoy your laugh since Jaws can’t pronounce Megan spelt that way.) and everyone else. The manager, we’ll call him John, talked about the importance of working on teams. He talked about the importance of connecting with patients through their insurance process. Each speaker talked about their previous careers in customer success. One working in social justice, another a counselor for the blind, among others. One talked about how people thought a blind employee interview would be extra work. One talked about how they used a typewriter to type their answers at Providence College but how they needed help with papers. They talked about struggling at first but eventually found their place on their team of coworkers. They didn’t have paratransit so they needed to use public transportation. Another talked about the importance of knowing who you’re working for as well as the team you are working with. They shared the importance of knowing what kind of employee you want to be and knowing what you can bring to the table for the company. They also said if you find you’re not curious about the company during an interview, ask yourself why not? They also mentioned not to waste time during your interview.

 

Carley talked about how she made up her job as she went as a security administrator because Perkins didn’t have one. She did her own research and discovered that Perkins had outdated safety documents. She said the most updated document was from 2011. She started in 2016 and talked about how she worked with a woman (who I know by the way and was always great) at Perkins who helped create her job. This is great, but how come Perkins will help a sighted woman make up a job out of nowhere but they have never done this for someone who is blind? When you really talk to people, (yes, I have) you will learn that sadly, Perkins is becoming more like a business these days. One of the speakers who was blind talked about how they had to lower their expectations of sighted people. That’s so sad to me to have to lower your standards. He was used to people handling his blindness well but then discovered that people didn’t understand what blind people are capable of. He talked openly about how the district manager during one of his interviews asked who was going to shave him. Part of me couldn’t believe this. Sighted people would never be asked personal questions like this during job interviews. Part of me did believe it though because I know that blind people aren’t always treated the same. He talked about how blind people can do anything sighted people can. Sure, we do life differently, but we still do life. One talked about the importance of building relationships and being loyal to patients. They talked about not arguing with customers but stating facts to them as they are, and making sure you bring the conversation back to the topic being discussed. They also said not to take it personally when they get upset. He said to remember in moments like that that it’s not you they are upset at, but rather the situation. He explained that each call with people is different so taking time to breathe through difficult calls is important. He discussed the importance of helpful experience and how that might help conversations with customers. I think connection is important no matter if that’s personally or professionally. He mentioned the importance of reading articles on emotional intelligence and the importance of receiving feedback from your supervisor about your behavior. He talked about how both educated and uneducated customers have equal rights to good customer service and the importance of forgiving yourself when you don’t handle situations well. He talked about the importance of how you talk to customers and the body language you are using. Body language is important, and we definitely need to be talking with blind people about this. Some of us might know certain social cues but some blind people are behind on things like this. Not because they’re stupid, but because sometimes you miss a lot when you cannot see. It’s so important to have good sighted (or visually impaired) people you can talk to who can teach you these things. One speaker who is blind talked about how cassette players had just come out and he used readers who were paid to help him but said there wasn’t much accommodations. They talked about the importance of volunteering if you cannot get a job. I think this was great to bring up because I know people who are blind who think volunteering means nothing. I’ve felt that frustration of having lots of volunteer work but having no paid work, so I get that. Experience is experience though and we should never make people feel as if their experiences are not valuable.

 

I’m going to split day two into two posts, so next we’ll finish talking about the panelists and I’ll share what was discussed in the staff’s session about taking notes.

 

Thanks so much for reading. I realize people might not like some of the questions I have raised or some of the points I have written about here, but if we don’t speak up about issues or inequality, we’ll get nowhere. Change won’t happen if we keep our mouths closed.

If you want to talk about your experiences with the Career Launch Program or anything related to inequality struggles, let’s connect. I want my blog to be a platform where we can all speak out about the things that matter to us. Find me on Facebook at Miranda Oakley, but if you do, please reach out to me and tell me who you are and how you found me. You can leave me a comment here on my site or you can find me on Twitter at mirandaloakley

My best to you,

Miranda ❤

My Thoughts On “In the Dark” Season 2, Episodes 1 and 2

Hey guys!

As much as I love “In the Dark,” I’m not really a huge fan of how the CW offers their App. First of all, the show isn’t described! That’s crazy to me because hello? The show does have blind people in it! Secondly, while I certainly understand marketing strategies, the CW only allows you to stream episodes for a short time on their App before they delete them. Deleting them is so stupid to me! This season isn’t online anywhere on streaming services yet, so thank God I caught myself up on episodes the other day! If this post is missing any details, it’s because I missed visual pieces or because I can’t go back and watch it again before I post this. This post is going to cover episodes one and two.

 

In episode one, “All About the Benjamin,” Murphy is in the hospital trying to convince her mom to leave. Her mother uses the clock method to tell Murphy where her food is on her plate which I really liked they showed something like this. I don’t often have people do that for me, but I know what they’re talking about if they do. Someone might say, your meat is at twelve, and your pasta is at nine. Even though Murphy’s mom worries a lot, worrying about food could be a valid concern. In real life getting food as a blind person can be hard sometimes on a college campus during a terrible winter day. The internet tells me this episode opens with Murphy’s face bloody and Benjamin, Chelsea’s brother, (mentioned later in this) appears to be a victim. Anybody watching care to fill me in about that so far? Before leaving the hospital early, Murphy looks for Dean. She discovers he was no longer arrested. Dean had the chief police officer drop charges and he was told Murphy’s recording didn’t mean anything since he didn’t consent to it. I cannot believe the chief let Dean get away with killing someone and they put him back on the case in episode two as if nothing happened! Nia comes to visit Murphy and tells her that Jess and Felix stole money. Murphy was clueless about this but tells her they will pay her back. Nia doesn’t accept any money. Once Murphy left, she explains to Jess and Felix that they need to pay Nia. They weigh the pros and cons and decide they should return the money to the police. Murphy’s mom, Joy, calls her extremely upset that Murphy left the hospital early. She makes her go back to the hospital, and explains that if she doesn’t, their insurance won’t pay for it. Murphy tells her friends that people can’t just leave the hospital whenever they want, so she has to go back. We all know Murphy is crazy. Are we surprised she left? On the way to the police station to return the money, Jess and Felix get in to an accident and hit a guy on a bike. Felix gives him money, but he wants more so they clear out Jess’s savings account. When Murphy leaves the hospital, she meets Jess and Felix at the police station just in time for their meeting. We meet a new cop, Jean, and having arrived right as the meeting began, Murphy takes over. She makes up a story about littering. She, Jess, and Felix explain that they picked up a backpack full of trash and go on about how serious littering is. Jean tells them he’s glad they are concerned, but they didn’t need to meet with him about it. In this episode we also see Darnell make his way back to his apartment only to find Jules is dead. How terrible! They want him to think she died of suicide but he knows Jules didn’t kill herself. Poor Darnell! Dean tells Murphy to stay away from Chloe, but she goes to her house planning to tell her about her dad killing Tyson. Once there, Chloe tells her she doesn’t need to explain why she broke up with her dad and they share a laugh over how horrible Murphy’s nicotine gum smells. Murphy decides she cannot tell Chloe and reassures her they can still be friends. I like that they are still together. Murphy might be crazy, but they need each other in a way as two blind women.

 

Whoa! A lot happened in the second episode! Episode two, “Cross My Heart and Hope To Lie,” opens with Jess freaking out about keeping the money a secret. Murphy doesn’t understand why it is so hard for her because it took her twenty-three years to come out. She and Jess are trying to figure out how to use the guide dog school to launder money with Felix being such a paranoid person. Murphy is secretly seeing Max because she ran into him at the bar. He tells her not to tell anyone, not even Jess, and tells her to meet him at the hotel he’s staying at. He says he misses Murphy. I can’t help but wonder. Do you actually miss Murphy, or do you miss hooking up with Murphy? Rather than tell Jess right away, she tells her she spent the night with a guy who was hitting on her.

 

Murphy explains to Max that Dean admitted to her that he killed Tyson and she can’t tell Chloe about it because Dean is all she has. She tells Max there’s nothing they can do about it because Dean was put back on the case. After getting interrupted by Murphy’s mom while they were discussing ideas, Felix decides he needs to fire Joy so she doesn’t catch onto anything. Murphy, Jess, and Felix decide to turn Guiding Hope into a “grooming business”, where they use Max’s truck to bring their services to the dogs. Felix hires Chelsea’s brother, Benjamin, to work out front.

We meet a new girl in this episode, Stirling, who gets hired as a kennel tech. Jess can hardly focus because all she can think about is how much she likes this woman. We see a funny moment where Murphy is playfully making fun of Jess for awkwardly telling Stirling to nail her interview with Felix. They have such a heavy friendship, so I love seeing playful moments like this. Jess and Murphy paint Max’s truck to make it look like a grooming truck.

 

Meanwhile, Darnell meets with Nia and tells her he can’t believe someone could get away with murder and that he needs a break because he can’t work for her anymore. Good for you, Darnell! Nia tells him he can stop working for her if he kills Max and Darnell agrees. Really Darnell?!!! Jean discovers that Max’s truck is in town and he and Dean began searching for Max. Jess leaves her phone in the truck, so she grabs the key out of Murphy’s backpack. Jess finds Max’s stuff in Murphy’s backpack and figures out Murphy has been lying to her about seeing him. She confronts Murphy and is upset because Murphy said she and Jess were in everything together. Murphy can’t understand why Jess is upset about her leaving out the fact that she’s been seeing Max out of their conversations. Here we go again Murphy with your inability to show empathy towards your so-called best friend!

 

Murphy leaves and takes an Uber to see Max. Meanwhile, we see Max meeting with Darnell. He convinces Darnell not to kill him and explains that the only reason he set him up was because he thought he killed Tyson. He talks about how he knew Darnell wouldn’t have been able to deal, and once Murphy told him she wasn’t sure it was Darnell, he ran. Darnell tells him he should leave and Max tells Darnell how it might seem stupid but he loves Murphy. Darnell says he understands but he can help Max get a new identity once he leaves. Max agrees. Wow Max. Back at Guiding Hope, Dean enters looking for Murphy. Jess is very upset by this and tells him never to mention Murphy again. He wants to know if she’s heard from Max and Jess covers for her, telling Dean Murphy hasn’t heard anything about Max. Leave it up to Jess to always look out for Murphy or everybody, really. Jess tracks down Murphy and tells her Dean is after Max. She tells her that Max needs to leave town and they both agree the only way he will is if Murphy no longer wants him there. Murphy cries at the thought of saying goodbye to Max again and Jess reassures her she’ll be okay. The fact that Murphy cried over Max is big for her. Murphy tells Max after everything she’s been through, she needs to be with a boyfriend who can be with her in public and who won’t be sleeping in a different hotel bed every night. Max says he knows he can’t give her those things. What???!!!! What kind of an answer is that!!! I understand loving people enough to let them go so in a way maybe that’s what he’s doing, but I’ve always had mixed feelings about Max. When last season ended, I was left feeling like he should clean himself up and he and Murphy should raise Chloe. Even though it’s hard for him to get out of, the fact that he chose dealing over Murphy, issues included, is not cool. Not cool Max, not cool. Murphy tells Jess how she loves Max and how she is sad because she never really got a shot at being with him. Wow Murphy! You saying you love anyone never happens! You really are human! Murphy explains that she wanted to tell Jess about seeing Max, but she didn’t know what to do to keep him safe. Of course, Jess being Jess, completely understands. Jess reassures her that they have each other and they cry together. This just shows that as messed up as Murphy is, and with everything they’ve gone through, they really do feel for each other. See Murphy? Somewhere deep down you do care for your best friend!

Thanks for reading, guys!

Until next time,

Miranda ❤

My Thoughts On “In the Dark” Episodes 12 and 13

Hey guys!

I know it’s been a really long time since I’ve posted about “In the Dark”, so this is going to be a long one! Life happens. I just found out Monday that season two has started and I was five episodes behind! I caught myself up yesterday, and my views tell me people are still reading my posts about the first season, so I thought I would finish wrapping that up. This post is going to cover both episodes 12 and 13.

 

When this particular episode aired, (episode 12) I was at Perkins that week, so I only caught a review during one of my breaks but didn’t catch it until a few days later. You know it was intense when my friend, Chelsea, texted me saying, “Omg. The last episode of “In the Dark”! Did you watch it Thursday???” Chelsea often helps me with the visual stuff, so thanks, Chels! It’s crazy that the CW doesn’t have the show described on their App. This show is about a blind woman!

 

Episode 12 opens with Murphy’s birthday party at the roller-skating rink. We flashback to Murphy and Jess as teenagers. Murphy’s parents take their annual birthday photo of Jess and Murphy. Murphy makes a comment, wanting to know why her parents were taking a photo when she won’t be able to see it soon. Oh Murphy. I can see why she would be sad about losing her sight, but blind people like photos, too.

 

We then flash forward to Murphy’s apartment. Murphy tells Pretzel Jess isn’t there. He too, seems to miss Jess. Then we see Felix and Jess having breakfast at Felix’s apartment. Jess wants to know how Murphy is without her. Felix tells her she could call her but he supports her taking time away from Murphy. Next, Murphy is at the store, where the usual cashier isn’t working. The woman behind the counter asks for Murphy’s id. She tells her about the sign that mentioned ids were required. Murphy tells her about her guide dog and the woman tells her she still needs to hand over her id. Hello? Just because you’re blind doesn’t mean you should get away with not having to show your id. Murphy puts a couple of cards on the counter, saying, “It’s one of those,” and lets the cashier find the right one. If you’re blind, you should especially have your wallet organized! She should have had the cards in different spots. Folding money is good to tell bills apart. The cashier wishes her a happy birthday and in typical Murphy fashion, Murphy sarcastically responds that this birthday will be her best one yet. Back at Murphy’s apartment, she drinks wine as Dean knocks on her door. He comes in, making small talk and letting her know about some mail. He asks if she is okay, and Murphy explains that Max is gone and Jess moved out. Dean mentions that since Murphy can’t see, she might not know how gross her apartment is but that he has a birthday present for her. Murphy comments there’s no need to wrap a gift for a blind person. Girl! Are you crazy?! Okay, yes, but blind people also happen to like wrapped gifts. Dean gives her a color identification device for her birthday because Chloe loves hers. I liked how they showed the way the device told Murphy her shirt was brown. Murphy doesn’t seem to appreciate it, but says she does, and says how she wants to forget her birthday.

 

Next, we move to Guiding Hope celebrating her birthday. Jess and Murphy take an updated photo and Murphy wants her dad to stop taking pictures.  Her party is quick because Felix tells them they can eat at their desk. Jess and Murphy take a birthday photo because Murphy’s dad won’t stop asking them to if they don’t. Murphy and Jess make small talk. Jess wishes her a happy birthday and says she’s not going to bail on work with Murphy. We move to prison with Darnell and Jules. Jules has been removed from the case. Jules tells Darnell that his DNA was in the car where Tyson was killed. Darnell tells Jules to talk to Murphy. Jules meets with Murphy and takes her phone. Murphy meets Chelsea at the bar and explains to Chelsea about her last visual memory of Jess stumbling over to her on roller-skates. She tells Chelsea that she has stopped seeing visual memories a few months ago because her brain can’t make visual images anymore. This was interesting. I’ve heard people who have lost their sight say they still remember what things look like. Chelsea tells Murphy that is a really depressing thing to go through on her birthday. She tells Murphy Dean is in love with her and tells her he is one of the good guys. Murphy doesn’t believe that Dean has feelings towards her. She tells Chelsea that she will find a great guy and Chelsea tells Murphy to stop being nice to her because it freaks her out. Felix tells Jess that it might be a good thing that she left Murphy alone on her birthday because she’s feeling bad about it. Jess gets a call from Vanessa and freaks out. She keeps asking Felix what it might mean. She and Felix think it could be nothing but Felix says it could be something. Back at the bar, Nia sits next to Murphy. She tells Murphy that her dog is cute, but Murphy doesn’t recognize Nia’s voice. Nia tells her she wouldn’t have any of her people hurt Tyson. She says her business is having problems, so she never wants to hear Murphy’s name again. Jules meets Murphy at her apartment and tells her that an IP address was traced to China, and they found this person was at a coffee shop. Cut to Felix and Jess entering the bar and then making their way outside. Vanessa is in the bar. Felix can see that Vanessa is inside with another woman. Felix awkwardly tells Jess that Vanessa is with a hot girl but the fact that she is at Jess’s bar is manipulative, and that Vanessa needs to stop playing games with Jess. Vanessa introduces Jess to the girl she’s with. She explains to Jess that she called her because she removed her from her favorites and accidently clicked on her name. Ouch! Poor Jess! She tells Jess that she came to the bar to get her credit card that she left at the bar when she found out Jess cheated on her.

 

Jules and Murphy make their way to the coffee shop and Jules describes it to Murphy. This was so great! I love that they showed the importance of making a blind person aware of their surroundings. Jules explains to a guy, who they learn is the supervisor, they’re wanting a log of someone using a laptop there. The guy is completely clueless and can’t wrap his head around why they would want information on someone who was there months ago. Murphy tells Jules that Nia came to see her and that she said she didn’t have anything to do with Tyson’s death. Later, Murphy ends up at the playground with Tyson’s mom, Ronda. Murphy tells Ronda that she can’t move on because she doesn’t know what happened to her son. Ronda says Murphy might know but can’t accept it. Ronda explains to Murphy that Jules has been covering for Darnell since they were teenagers because she’s always had a thing for him. Murphy is mad, thinking Jules lied to her. Ronda tells Murphy she loves that she loved Tyson. She tells her to quit smoking and what she’s doing isn’t going to bring him back. Murphy is later at Deans house. He makes dinner and she doesn’t like what he made. She tells Dean that she’s not there to talk about Tyson. She tells him she can’t go home because Jess wasn’t there. Murphy tells Dean she doesn’t remember ever having a happy birthday. Dean brings Murphy and Chloe to the roller rink because Murphy tells him to treat Chloe the same as someone with sight. They meet Jess, Felix, and Murphy’s parents there. Jess grabs onto Murphy, as they fall and laugh. They hug. While I can certainly see why Jess took a break from her, I’m glad they are back together. Murphy flashes back to teenage Jess at the rink. Jess tells Murphy that she packed her bag and will move back in with her. We then see Murphy talking with Dean. He tells her Chelsea isn’t wrong about liking her because he’s crazy about her. Dean leaves for a work call and Murphy convinces him to leave Chloe with her and Jess. Cut to Jules watching a parking garage. She sees Nia outside the garage. Someone approaches Nia but Jules can only see his shoes and a gun holster attached to his shoe. Jules tells Darnell she saw someone meet with Nia and about the gun holster. She thinks Darnell is being framed by a cop.

 

Now let’s move on and talk about episode 13. Dean enters Nia’s house. He asks her about a shooting and wanted to know about her rivals. She changes the conversation to ask about his family. She talks about her nephew having bone cancer and how much Chloe’s surgery costs. If she wasn’t guilty, she wouldn’t keep side stepping. Flashback to Murphy and Dean laughing. She tells him he was the only silver lining of the year. At Guiding Hope, Murphy tells Jess she wants to take it slow with Dean. Felix is mad that he’s the only one working. Jules meets Dean in the police station and observes the same holster. They leave and talk outside. She tells Dean that she saw Nia talking to a cop and saw his holster. Dean seems surprised. She tells him Darnell was framed by a cop. She wonders if the cop is covering for himself. Dean seems nervous saying Chloe has a half day and they can get lunch on him. Again, if he wasn’t guilty, he wouldn’t be acting this way. This makes it obvious Dean did something. Felix meets Jess and Murphy in the break room and tells them he has to close the school. He inherited 75 thousand dollars in debt. Jules talks to Chloe at the station. Chloe tells her they went roller skating. Dean wants to know why they’re talking about skating. Darnell calls Guiding Hope. He explains he was framed by a cop working for Nia and that’s how the DNA was planted in the car. Murphy won’t help him because she knows Tyson and not Darnell. Darnell says he sent her a letter but she never got it. Clearly, when Dean mentioned mail to Murphy, he obviously took it. But, when Murphy questions him about it, he tells her he didn’t see it. Dean tells her someone who is guilty will convince someone they didn’t do it. That’s exactly what you’re doing, Dean. Dean tracks Jules computer and is worried she’s at the roller rink. Cut to him meeting with Nia. He seems nervous and tells her someone is coming for her. He is uneasy about telling her it is Jules. He says he is looking out for her because if he did, she would help pay for Chloe’s surgery.

 

Cut to Felix at the apartment with Jess telling her how horrible he feels about closing Guiding Hope. Jess tells Felix she knows where they can get money. Cut to Dean and Murphy in the car singing because they went away for the weekend. Jess and Felix take his van to the lake. Jess sees Max’s truck and tells Felix Max hid one hundred thousand dollars because he’s a launderer for a drug dealer’s money. She didn’t tell Felix right away because she knew he wouldn’t be comfortable stealing money. They decide they could make small donations to the school with it and they decide they are in on taking the money. While Murphy waited in the car for Dean to come back with their food, she gets a call from Jules. She wants to know where Dean said he was going the night he was at the roller rink. Murphy tells Jules Dean said he was going to help her with something and Jules is in disbelief because he never helped her with anything. Then one of Nia’s people puts a gas mask over Jules nose and a gun to her neck. They inject Jules. Jess and Felix find the money in a well. Meanwhile, Vincent, another of Nia’s workers, tells Nia over the phone what is going on. They don’t know they were discovered. Cut to the rental, where Dean and Murphy are smoking and drinking. After hooking up, Murphy gets Dean to confess he killed Tyson. We learn that Tyson was dealing and Dean lets him out of jail earlier than he should have been. Tyson tells Dean Wesley is going to kill him and Dean tells Tyson no one can know he worked for Nia. Tyson says if Dean doesn’t help him, he will tell everyone about Dean. Dean strangles Tyson, and Murphy finds him. Dean shoots him and puts him in the trunk of a car. He tells Murphy he did all this because Nia helped cover Chloe’s medical expenses. What?????!!!!!!! Anyone in their right mind knows there’s no excuse for killing someone.She tells Dean she knows he kept Darnell’s letter from her. She tells him that the smoke from his cigar is the same smell she smelled when Tyson was killed. She figures out that Dean used Tyson’s phone at the coffee shop that came up when Jules searched the text messages on Murphy’s phone. Murphy records the conversation and uploads it to the cloud. You can hear the voice on her phone saying the recording had stopped. She tries jumping out of a window and Dean catches her. Once in the car, not knowing the recording had been uploaded, Dean deletes all the recordings on Murphy’s phone. They beat each other up and go back and forth about being upset about his death and being recorded. They end up in an accident, with the car going over a guardrail. Once in the hospital, Murphy tells Dean she’s going to talk about all the good things she remembers about Tyson and tells him everything she recorded was uploaded to the cloud. Nia visits her hospital room and tells her that Felix and Jess stole money. She says she doesn’t want them to pay her back but wants them to deal for her. Murphy is left confused about the key she was given.

 

Thanks for reading this entire post!!!

Until my next one,

Miranda ❤

I Took My Concerns To My Governor. Have You?

Hey friends,

How’s your Wednesday going? This is going to be one of my longer posts, but it is one I think you should read. I mean…Other than work, it’s not like you don’t have any time on your hands right now or anything. Right? Ha. 😉 What are you doing to keep yourself busy or to relax (whatever works for you.) during this quarantine? Staying home, I hope. Let’s talk. Tell me what you guys are up to.

 

I have been following my Governor’s briefings since they began. Do any of you follow your Governor’s briefings? Before I get into everything, I first want to publicly thank Governor Raimondo, her executive assistant, the data team and Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott. Thank you to the data team for working so hard to make sure that accessibility is included in your work for the state. Thanks to the Governor and Dr. Nicole for acknowledging receiving feedback. Earlier this month Dr. Nicole announced during one of the briefings that she received feedback from the visually impaired community that not everyone can see the information on the data dashboard screen. She went on to explain that they launched a phone line with up-to-date recordings of the visual information on slides shown during briefings. During another briefing, the Governor was asked about offering information to people in other languages. She said she received feedback from the “Seeing Impaired” community (I think it’s so funny she calls it that) and they have made adjustments, so they could do more for people speaking different languages. It’s great to see thought going into various communities.

 

I noticed that the Governor and Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, the director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, were announcing information on television such as new cases etc. Even though it is terrible that people have this virus, I thought making these announcements was a positive thing because without realizing it, blind people were not an afterthought for once. The afterthought mentality happens frequently, but we need to also speak about those working hard to make sure disabled people are not continuing to be left out of the conversation. If you are doing your part to make sure that disabled people aren’t left out, thank you.

 

One day earlier this month I noticed the governor and Dr. Nicole stopped announcing this information because they launched a visual data dashboard which would display the information they were previously announcing on slides during briefings. I understood that these conferences are packed with information; therefore, I could see why it might benefit them having a little less on their plate. I also knew that as a blind woman who has seen the afterthought mentality all too often, if I did not speak out about this, we would find ourselves with yet another politician who doesn’t care about the blindness community. This might seem way too harsh for the sighted folks reading this, but any blind person will tell you it’s true. While we have some good ones, it’s hard to find many who publicly advocate for this particular community.

 

When the briefing ended, I reached out to my good friend, Helene, to see who she knew who could connect me with the Governor. Helene knows more people than anyone I know, other than my friends, Gloria and Billy. If anyone can fill a room, it’s Helene. We go quite a while without talking, so I honestly wasn’t sure if I would hear from her. I knew that if she didn’t get back to me that I would find another way. Thankfully, she put me in touch with the Governor’s executive assistant, who has been great about corresponding with me. I thought I would share my questions, concerns and some of the responses I received below. I know a few very literal people, so if any of you following me are anything like the ones I know, if you want to know why I said, “recent,” in my note, send me a comment and I’ll explain what I mean. Depending on your comfort level with reading, this post is already long enough for some people.

 

Dear Governor Raimondo:

My name is Miranda Oakley and I am a recent URI graduate. I hope this finds you well during this crazy time. I have been a longtime supporter of yours and think you are doing an excellent job for our state. I am writing to you with hopes you may be able to answer a few questions I have regarding your daily press briefings.

 

During a time when blind people are being left out of the conversation surrounding the coronavirus and its frequently evolving data, I have always considered myself lucky as a young blind woman because your briefings have always been easy for me to follow. I noticed that recently you have made a visual shift in delivering daily and important data. I understand this makes it easier for you because right now you have an especially full plate. While this visual data dashboard is a convenient, quick way for the sighted population to receive necessary information, what are you and your team doing to make sure the blindness population in Rhode Island is not an afterthought?

 

As a young woman, I have the skills to use specialized technology that allows me to use the internet. While nothing is perfect, looking through the dashboard I noticed that it is not completely accessible with screen reading software. I can do some guess work to try and make sense of the information, but what are you doing about older folks who are blind who may not be able to use this specific technology, now that you will not be discussing as much in your briefings on television? I bring this to your attention because as time progresses, you and your team may decide to add to, or change the visual information displayed on the data dashboard on tv screens and online.

 

Thank you so much for your time and for working so hard to make Rhode Island the best it can be.

Sincerely,

Miranda Oakley

Raimondo’s executive assistant wrote back and said, “Miranda,

Thank you for reaching out and raising these questions. I will share your message with the Governor, our Communications Office, RIDOH, and the team behind the data dashboard.” She sent me another email explaining that they launched two phone lines with the visual information on the dashboard recorded for anyone who cannot access it. I’ll include those numbers here in case someone you know might need them. The line in English is 401-222-8280 and the Spanish line is 401-222-2385. I thanked her and let them know I think the media should include these numbers in their tv and written coverage. Yesterday I sent an email wanting to know what they were doing to make sure the data dashboard was accessible to blind people online. While I could read part of it, I noticed images weren’t described and as I mentioned in my original email, you needed to do some guess work to put everything together. I had ideas about what could be done about this, but I wanted to give them a chance to come through. I went back to the site yesterday to test it and found it much more accessible. Now you can find text that tells you about the information you’re about to read. It’s so wonderful to see people actually making changes so quickly. Again, I wanted to see what they had to say, so I asked for some follow up information. So many times, as advocates we hear sighted people say they weren’t aware of issues needing to be changed. I believe that’s true sometimes. Sometimes we need to give sighted people a chance to see what they bring to the table without us constantly always giving suggestions. She sent me the following. “Miranda,

Per my contact, the team added Alt Text to the graphics to make them more machine readable. Was that helpful at all?

They also offered to establish direct contact with you to work out a better plan. Let me know if you would be open to that!”

I let her know that these are great changes and I would be happy to help in any way I can. It’s great when someone you have supported for so long is paying attention to all communities and has a team working to actually get things done. I’ve seen a lot of blind people in particular (yes, I know, sighted people get down about this too,) really down about this whole situation. There are terrible things about this for sure, but I hope this encourages people with disabilities to keep advocating. You’ll eventually find people who listen. Eventually you’ll find people who help put change into action.

 

Thanks for sticking with me and reading all this! Is there anything I’m not blogging about that I should be? Let’s connect! Find me on Twitter at mirandaloakley or leave me a comment on my site. If you find me on Facebook at Miranda Oakley, please let me know who you are and how you found me. Thanks.

My best to you,

Miranda ❤

Respect During This Pandemic

Hey guys,

How’s your quarantine going? What have you guys been doing? I’ve been writing. I’ve watched a couple of movies, (yes blind people do that too) and I’ve been going on walks. Can we please talk about how awesome it is that artists are doing live stream concerts lately? If you need something good to check out, Kelsea Ballerini came out with a new album, Kelsea. It’s really good so you should give it a listen. Let me know what you’re doing these days and what you think of the album. While I personally believe it is good to be informed and stay on top of the news, I think we need to also find other things to do. I wanted to make a post about the importance of respecting one another during this crazy pandemic we’re all living in. Once this ends people are going to teach future kids about this part of history. Before I get into the main point of this post, let me say a couple of things. Guys, I get it. We all get it. The world we’re living in right now is scary. People are often comparing this pandemic to World War II and the Great Depression. Did any of you ever like the American Girl books? Addy was always my favorite, but lately I feel like I’m living out of Molly or Kit books. Molly lived during World War II and Kit during the great depression. This virus has caused lots of disappointment. I’ve had concerts canceled. I have to watch where I go as we all should be doing. My twin left early so we couldn’t hang out before she left. My other friend had to cancel an amazing trip because of this. I was telling this particular friend the night we talked how important it is for us to feel our feelings. It sounds silly I know, but it’s true. Once I learned it, I’ve been suggesting people do the same. As friends (insert other relationships here) whoever we are to people, I believe that we need to meet them where they are in moments. And they should learn how to do that for us, too. I had a few people do that for me, and trust me, it changed everything for me. I can bless it forward because of that small handful of kind students and professors who entered my life during college and took it upon themselves to meet me exactly where I was.

 

For those of us with disabilities or for older folks, this virus also feels scary because we’re putting others at risk when we have them go to the store on our behalf. For me personally, it’s mostly older people who help me anyhow, so I just have another thing to add to my prayer list.

 

Next, we need to talk about panic buying. Guys, stop hoarding. If everything is taken, that’s selfish and you’re doing more harm than good. Is that what we really want right now? Especially right now? What saddens me is how I keep seeing people online all talking about when they see empty stores, they think they should buy in a panic. What’s with everyone acting the same? I get it, we all go through it sometimes. In college so many people did it. They all had the same jackets, etc. I’ve gone through it too, thinking that being like certain people might get me treated differently if I got “in” with them. I just got to a point where it doesn’t matter if I’m “in” with them anymore. Let’s be our own people and think of others please.

 

Remember at the beginning of this post where I mentioned respect? Let’s talk about that now. Sadly, lately I’ve seen people talking about how mad they are that people are taking so many precautions and canceling events. It’s crazy, but it’s happening for a reason. Lets all do our part in slowing the spread of this crazy virus. Whether you follow the news or get your information through others, I’m sure by now you’ve heard everyone saying to flatten the curve. This is so important so we aren’t over whelming our hospitals. Please respect that my (or someone else’s) version of cautious might not look like your version of cautious. That’s fine, but please don’t automatically assume people are in a complete panic because they’re living out what their version of cautious looks like. Please wash your hands. Take this seriously. Try your absolute hardest to not touch your face. For me personally, when my eyes really hurt, (I know there’s blind people feeling me on that at one time or another) I just flashback to a funny memory when one of my best friends, Helene, was doing my make up saying, “Don’t touch your eyes! Really. Don’t touch them. Even when they hurt. Promise?” On behalf of those of us like myself who are at a higher risk for this virus, please, stay home. And tell others to do the same.

Stay healthy and think about your decisions please.

Miranda ❤

She’s…Blind and Thank You

Hi friends! Happy 29! I always find today so cool because I’ve always found leap years interesting. It’s true what people say, I really am an old soul and I find little things interesting. It is amazing what can happen in four years. Today back in 2016, I was journaling about the rough day I had surrounding some personal things happening in my life at the time, and about school challenges that aren’t typically understood unless you have a disability or are friends with someone who does. I also was thankful that things were going well with Phillips because at that time in life having a male reader made me a bit nervous. Funny how life works and he ended up being one of the best things to happen to me. God knows what he’s doing. Really. Now I am thanking God for many things including being published, graduation, reconnecting with some friends, those lessons we must learn for our own growth even if they’re tough ones, my list goes on. Whether you’re a believer or not, what are you thankful for today or for so far this year?

 

Today I wanted to talk about the importance of calling blindness for what it is. In fact, unless the person says otherwise, we should be calling disabilities for what they are. Recently I was at a party and while these young people are nice, I heard one whisper, “She’s…” and their friend whispers back, “Blind.” Right away, I called them on it. Not in a mean way, but I quickly told them they should just say it out loud. Yes, I’m blind. Yes, it can be awkward for people, but say it for what it is. Now I certainly have a few friends where we can finish one another’s sentences, but I believe that especially with young adults, we need to grab onto teachable moments and run with them. I made sure to let them know they didn’t make me mad, but I wanted them to know for next time.

 

Another time I walked into one of my nutrition classes at URI. I made my way into class and asked someone to help me find a place to sit. Any assistance I had at college often happened after classes. While I had directions to my classes recorded on my recorder and eventually planted them into my memory, URI is a huge campus and bigger classes were always harder for me to get myself to a seat. I walked in and one student whispered to another, “She can’t see,” and I was wicked tired that day so I just kept my conversation short and found someone to help me sit down for our lecture. If you have a disability then you particularly understand that some days, while advocacy and education are important, some days we have to pick our battles because everything we deal with in a day can sometimes get pretty exhausting. I laughed with friends later about it. I thought it was funny. I mean, in case anyone can’t tell, I can’t see. Surprise! =) No need to keep it a secret.

 

Now I’d like to hear from you. I think it’s so important that we help people understand it’s perfectly okay to talk out loud about our differences and disabilities. Go ahead and tell people. My best friend is blind. I worked for a blind person. I had a student in class who is blind and they made some great contributions to my course. My blind employee makes my company great. Whatever it is, tell someone about it. While everybody uses different language, (more on that in another post) you can speak about disability without being offensive if you learn how. What are your thoughts? Let’s connect! If I should be blogging about topics not discussed on my site, let me know. Find me on Facebook at Miranda Oakley, but if you connect with me on there, all I ask is that you please send me a message telling me who you are and how you found me. You can also find me on Twitter at mirandaloakley and you can leave me a comment on my website. =)

Enjoy today and have a great rest of your weekend.

My best to you,

Miranda ❤

Positive Experience Worth Sharing

Hi friends and a happy Thursday to you all. Happy 2020! =) I know, I know! It has been forever since I’ve posted. Thanks to those of you still viewing my site throughout my absence. Learning my new laptop has taken me much longer than I would have liked, but I’m at a much more comfortable place at this point.

 

I have always said and believed that we need to have a balance in what we are sharing. We absolutely should be sharing the negative stuff happening throughout the blindness community to bring about change. I also believe it is, and should be equally important to shed light on positive experiences because we can also bring about change that way. Recently I had a driver bring me to an appointment who knew to call my cane a cane. Most people who don’t know what it is often call it a walking stick. I thought this was great that he knew what to call it. He was trying to show me where the handle on his van was should I need to hold on to it. He asked, “Can I take your cane?” I said, “No,” and he said, “Okay,” and proceeded to show me how to find the handle he was telling me about. People often don’t respect choices of those with disabilities and often keep focusing on how the person is just trying to help and be nice. I was pleased that this person was respectful of personal space because the cane is an extension for people who cannot see. I thought people would appreciate this. If you are new to blindness, I hope you learned something.

 

Thanks for reading! Is there anything I should be blogging about? Let me know by leaving a comment here on my site or feel free to reach out to me on Facebook at Miranda Oakley. I just ask that you send me a message telling me who you are and how you found me. You can also find me on Twitter and send me a tweet at mirandaloakley

My best to you all,

Miranda ❤

My First Guest Post!

Hi!

I hope this finds you well and thank you for reading. A while back I wrote a guest piece for this amazing blogger I met through Twitter, Ami. We were asked to pick two letters from the word importance and write about how our mobility device (or devices) help us. I wrote about attitudes and acceptance surrounding people with disabilities and using a white cane as a woman who is blind. I would love to visit the UK sometime in my life. I share this guest spot with some other lovely, amazing ladies who also wrote really wonderful pieces for this post. A big thank you to Ami for including me in this great post! You can find a link to Ami’s website below. The post including me is her most recent one that went live today!

Let me know your thoughts. Leave me a comment on my website, find me on Facebook (if you connect with me on there just please send me a message telling me who you are and how you found me,) and find me on Twitter at mirandaloakley you can also find Ami on Twitter at

https://mobile.twitter.com/Ami_T1995?p=s

Go check her out and give her a follow.

My best to you,

Miranda ❤

https://undercoversuperhero2.home.blog/2019/10/09/the-importance-of-mobility-aids/

 

Helene’s Thank You Note

Hi Friends,

I wanted to post this sooner, but you have to love technology issues. Right? =) If you have followed my blog or other socials for a while then you know I was a volunteer on the Vincent for Boston campaign. I’m thankful for the opportunity to have been part of such a great campaign. I enjoyed door knocking and talking with people face-to-face about Helene’s campaign and the causes she stands for. Phone banking had its challenges because I found the website was not easily accessible with Jaws, a popular screen reading program that many blind people use. I was happy to reach folks though to discuss the campaign. What a race it was. Helene put in so much hard work and I’m so grateful for the experiences I took away from everything during this year and a half. Helene did not win, but she wrote a really sweet thank you note that you can find below. How sweet to mention me. I hope and pray our friendship inspires people. I always do what I can to talk about my lifelong friendship with Helene in hopes that it will encourage people to become friends with someone different. Take that scary chance and become friends with that different person the way Helene took a chance on me years ago. Come on. Yes, you. Try it! You might make a lifelong friend out of it. =)

 

Helene’s note:
Thank you so much for the last incredible 18 months. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to have your support.

As you may have heard, we came in 3rd place in a 5-way race. It’s not the result we hoped for, but we are incredibly proud to have come this far as a first-time campaign.

I’d like to take a moment to thank each of you who helped along the way. 

Each of you has shared your world, your wisdom, and your generosity in different ways.

Thank you to each neighborhood: Mission Hill, Audubon Circle, Fenway, Back Bay, Beacon Hill, and the West End for revealing your unique identities and beauty.

Thank you to our financial donors who believed in our shared values enough to invest in this project.

Thank you to my kitchen cabinet (strategy team) who met every three weeks to strategize over pizza and beer.

Thank you to our volunteers who made calls, knocked doors, worked events, provided words of encouragement, and threw yourselves wholeheartedly into this project.

Thank you to my wife Alice, who supported me every step of the way and put herself outside her comfort zone daily by making calls and knocking doors.

Thank you to my parents, my extraordinary mother-in-law Wen, and all my sisters for traveling to Boston for every major event and pitching in to help out at a moment’s notice whenever I was in a pinch.

Thank you to our incredible campaign team: Krista (the best campaign manager anyone could ever dream of), Jordan (our operations director for whom no job was too big or too small), Matt (a fearless field director who showed up for work even while battling the flu), David (our communications director extraordinaire who designed our print materials and prepped me for every single debate, appearance, or op-ed), Spencer (the finance director who taught me that fundraising could be fun!) and Kalen (my field consultant who designed our field strategy and provided endless pep talks).

Thank you to my lifelong friend Miranda, who is blind and who kicked off my activism journey in the 5th grade as we dreamed up a public school for the blind where students would actually get the resources they need for a full education. She shows me every day what it means to show up and not let anyone tell you something is impossible.

And, most importantly, thank you to every single person I met on the 13,758 doors I knocked this year who took the time to share their hopes, dreams, fears, and suggestions with me.

I’m honored to have earned your trust and I will work hard every day to create a more inclusive, affordable, and accessible Boston for all.

In gratitude,
Hélène

District 8 Primary Election Is Today! Have You Voted Yet?

Good Tuesday morning!

I have a handful of followers living in Massachusetts so please share this post with anyone you know who can get out and vote today. I want to remind everybody living in District 8 that your primary election is today! Have you voted yet? Polling locations are open until 8 p.m. Can Helene count on your vote? If anyone needs a ride to the polls, reach out and I will connect you with Krista, our campaign manager, who can help you with transportation.

 

Mission Hill, Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Fenway/Kenmore, Audubon Circle, and the West End are all part of District 8. Can Helene Vincent count on your vote today? Please spread the word! Helene and I have been lifelong friends and I would really appreciate it if someone snapped a photo of the ballot with Helene’s name on it and sent it to me. If anyone can do this for me please shoot me an email or if you know me personally send me a text please. Thank you.