Brian's Ramblings

My thoughts in text, photo, and video form

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Getting Ready to Rock 'N Roll

As I sit here, pondering why my knuckle on my right pinky finger is sore, I am less than 8 days away from the fall semester. Once August 23rd comes, as they say, "It's rock 'n roll time!" This fall will be crazy, I just know that already. Combine work duties, class duties, civic duties, social engagements, etc. and that makes for one BUSY schedule. Am I aprrehensive about it? I'd be lying if I said I wasn't...I am just a little skeptical that I'll actually make it to December and still have my sanity! Am I excited about the schedule? Very much so!

Each year, I keep telling myself, "Wow, nothing can top the year I just had," but life is such that you never really know what lies around the corner. Each year is like reading a whole new installment of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter; you finish the latest book as fast as you can and then become so eager to read the next book...but then realize, you'll need to wait a whole year or more for the next one to be published, so you resort to re-reading past books and then read the current book again. Am I a fan of Harry Potter? No! In fact, I haven't read ANY of the books, nor have I seen the major motion film versions. But, I do have sisters, and boy you can learn a whole lot from them!

In any case, this year appears to be one that will have major implications on my future. Another such year, off the top of my head, was 2001, when I was an active member of the Hui Po'okela Mortar Board (the University of Hawaii's chapter of the National Honor Society for Seniors). I've written about Mortar Board in a prior entry, but I'll go a little more in-depth just for the sake of completing my story. I was inducted in April 2001, and prior to this, candidates need to go through a whole application process, which incluudes an interview portion with the interviews conducted by current members. I did my interview electronically, I believe we resorted to using a chatting function that allowed us to communicate in real-time via text. I was happy they were accommodating in that regard. During the interview, they'd throw out your occassional question that makes you go "What the heck is this group about?!" "If you could be a tree, what tree would you be?" or "Can you tell us a joke?" So, I endured all of this...but one thing stuck in my mind. More than once, I was told of Mortar Board member's requirements over the course of the year-long term..."You know members need to participate in 10 service projects and chair at least 2....Do you think you can handle this aspect of membership?" At the time, I gave an honest answer to the effect of, "I really don't know, but I'd sure love the opportunity to try." As I reflected back, I realized they were questioning MY abilities!

I LOVE it when my abilities are question. I'm one who takes it as a challenge to demonstrate that I am as capable as the next person. "Tell me I can't, I'll show you I CAN" is one of the mottos that I adhere to in my approach to life. So, I took completing the service project requirements as a challenge. By the time summer ended, I was 1 project away from completing my quota. At first, I thought I'd stop after finishing the minimum. But the more and more I participated in these projects, the more I grew to enjoy them and actually looked forward to the next one! I did hit the magic number of 10, but didn't stop there. "Can you handle 10 projects?" Yes I can, and then some! I helped clean and paint the park by Kaimuki High School with my friend Lynnett; Lynnett is one of those people you meet and has an impact on you for the rest of your life. We went to that beautification project, not knowing a whole lot about one another, but she took charge and said, "Okay Brian, do you want to paint or help me wash screens first?" I believe we washed screens, and then we proceeded to paint.

I suppose a recurring image of a person with a disability in society is that of a lazy, frail individual who doesn't do more than necessary...s/he won't push her/himself to the limit. This image is far from reality. Sure, you will find individuals who fit this mold that society has constructed of them, but I would argue that the amount is really low. On that same note, those who don't fit this mold cast upon them by society aren't superheroes. They are simply living their lives!

Admiration for what someone does IN SPITE of a disability and raising their status to "superhero", is NOT admiration; that is called handing out chairty. Admiring someone for what they do WITH a disability is called respect. "Respect is earned, not given."

Other memorable projects I participated in is the Honolulu Marathon starting line. I can recall attending a UH Warrior football game earlier that day, I believe it might have been the awesome beating of BYU, a despised rival! My sister, Lynn, had arrived back from school in Oregon and attended the game with my parents and I. The project called for us to be there at midnight....why did I choose to attend this project, when in fact I didn't have to? Well, how many opportunities does one have to be a part of the Honolulu Marathon and be up at the crazy hours after midnight? I speak only for myself, but there aren't many opportunities like this! So, there I was, at 11:30pm waking up from a short nap, thinking "what the heck am I doing?!" And on top of that, I recruited my sister, Lynn, to come along! I was there along with about 10 other eager, but tired Mortar Board members, led by Taron (thanks for being THE first person to leave me a comment, Taron!). I was stationed by the entrance for the tour bus parking, I was to direct these huge busses into Ala Moana Beach Park. At first, the adrenaline had me chipper and excited to be there. Eventually, it became a chore to say the least. It began to rain and a rain at 3 in the morning makes for chilly conditions! By the time 6am came, and the runners ran by us, I was ready to head home for a long, long nap. My sister was even more ready to do the same. Those projects are just a couple that stand out in my mind; I ended up with about 30 projects. I was proud and felt fulfilled by the time my term was completed.

Soon, I'll be chronicling my semester and all the fun that will unfold. This week, I took time to enjoy something that I love...UH Warrior football. Monday at 3pm, was the first practice. It was more of a way to get everyone used to the idea of practicing; nothing major was accomplished. However, the team held their conditioning test. Players, by their position, had to run 220-yards, ten times under a certain amount of time. This is a greuling test of the mind, body, and spirit...coaches use it to see who's in-shape and who needs extra work. It was great being back out there around the guys...admittedly, lots of the players I knew, and players who knew me (more than just the guy in the chair), but still it was neat to go out there and hear, "Hey B!" "Bri, what's going on you snapper head?!" "B's in the house!" etc. I knew I belonged, I should be there.

After running, Lamar (a defensive player) comes up to me and says, "Yeah, I did that sh*t again, because of you, man. I saw you sitting there and I told myself 'Nothing is impossible, you just gotta fight through it sometimes!' Two out of the three years ain't bad huh?!" I nodded affirmatively. Earlier in the practice, he pulled his groin, but he didn't let that stop him from practicing. Things like that help motivate/inspire me to go all out no mattter what.

Later, Lamar and I would converse over dinner. Players have little time to eat and relax, before having to attend meetings to go over film and to learn different plays/coverages, so dinner is often a rushed aspect. So, I resorted to my paper/pen to communicate, just because it was "there" and it was easier to write and eat, as opposed to taking out my DynaWrite. I KNOW eventually, I will use the DynaWrite...I'm still getting accustomed to having it at my disposal. During our conversation, I told him that I was going to be a GA this fall. He was genuinely happy for me, and said "Hell yeah! That's hella cool, man. You go do your thing!"

It's a neat feeling to be supportive of one another's activities...I support him as a football player, and he supports me as a student. There's a mutual respect. We said our goodbyes for the day, and his parting comment was "You best have your ass out here tomorrow, you can't be missing practices!"

On Tuesday, I wasn't planning on coming into town, but my friend, Lissa, had called and asked if we could meet up as she was leaving for Oregon on the 18th. Lissa and I have been friends since my final semester as an undergraduate. We were classmates in Norma Jean Stodden's class, and I believe we "met" because we did a group project together. I felt like a fish out of water in that class...there I was, only 1 of 2 undergraduates amongst 20 graduate/doctorate students.

I suppose through a natural progression, Lissa and I forged a friendship. We'd discuss our project and then talk about whatever else was on our minds. On a few occassions, we hung out just to hang out...I enjoyed that. During that semester, I relayed the fact that I was graduating soon and was debating whether or not to continue on with graduate school. Lissa was one of the first persons to tell me that I definitely should attend, and my qualities were such that I'd make for an excellent candidate in Counseling & Guidance, the program she was completing that same semester. So, essentially I'm in graduate school, doing the things I'm doing, thanks in large part to Lissa, planting that seed in my mind that, yes, it was a plausible idea to pursue.

On Tuesday, it was a chance for us to say our goodbyes, but more importantly, to catch up on each other's going ons. We hadn't seen each other in a while, as she lives an incredibly busy life and my life is somewhat busy at the moment. So, it was nice....Dr. Skouge allowed me to use the office as a meeting place. After a while, Lissa did get chilly, but that's a bit odd considering she's an Oregonian at heart AND is moving back to Oregon, home of ducks, rain, and cold! Go figure... Anyway, she suggested we find a warmer climate, so off we went. We went back to her dorm, and chatted for a bit longer. She induced me to play air hockey, and I'm not one to pass up any form of competition. I've never played air hockey before, but all excuses aside, she whipped me pretty good! I did score a few goals, though!

Soon, it was time to say our goodbyes. I'm not one who enjoys goodbyes, I've seen too many friends find greener pastures on the mainland over the years. And still, it never becomes easy. But, of course, keeping in touch these days is easy...we literally can be in touch with the click of a few buttons! So, I know Lissa and I will maintain our friendship, while she develops herself professionally at Oregon, so she can pursue her career goals. I definitely have the confidence that she will end up doing what she wants to do, and do a wonderful job as well!

And, as she mentioned, this wasn't a goodbye forever....she does have a roundtrip ticket! So, we'll see each other when she returns for a visit, probably in December. I'll miss her presence her, question about that. Aloha and good luck, Lissa!

In a few hours, I'll say goodbye to my sister, Lori, who's returning to Washington for another semester of school. Time just flew by while she was here and in her final days of enjoying home, she was busy finishing up shopping and all that good stuff. We didn't have time to do an interview, and I felt it wasn't proper to rush through such an undertaking. So, for the time being, at least, its on hold. Jim reminded me that there's always the telephone, should we need to conduct interviews. It looks like that will be the route we take with this.

My other sister, Lynn, leaves for Oregon in September so we still have quite a bit of time left to enjoy/loathe each other's company. Actually, I do enjoy her company...we do have an odd way of getting along...

On Wednesday, I stayed at home with my sisters. I told them that if they picked up some Cold Stone ice cream and lunch from Teddy's Burger from down the road, I'd treat them as well. Originally, my plan was to travel down to Kailua town on my chair and Lynn would drive down by car. But, Lynn pointed out that it probably wasn't the safest for me to venture down to the tow, as there's construction going on, plus there's an area along the way that requires me to feel like I'm in a Frogger video game and maneuver my way on the street, with traffic zooming past me. A very hazardous situation, but one that has existed for year's on end. There's a bridge with a very, very narrow sidewalk just as you enter Kailua town. There's no way a wheelchair could fit on that walkway, no way at all. All it needs is about 6 inches more of witdth, and it'd solve the problem! So, if anyone from the State or City & County Roadway Planning Commission is reading this, your attention to this matter would be greatly appreciated!

On Thursday, I attended another function of the Disability and Communnication Access Board (DCAB), this time it was a Committee on Communication Access (CAC) meeting. As a board member, I'm also serving on the CAC. The foootball team had a morning practice, so I attended that and then went to my meeting. My ride to the meeting, arranged by DCAB, was an accessible cab. They were late, for the second time (2 out of 2 times...bad odds so far!) and in turn I was late to this meeting. However, once I got there, things went as well as they could have. I was happy to see a familiar face in Sterling when I arrived. Immediately, I was reminded how feeble a mind I have as there were a ton of accronyms (okay, only about 4 were mention, but still it felt like a lot!) being discussed, and I sat there trying to decipher the first one I heard! I noticed that most, if not all, of the issues that the CAC discussed were related to the deaf and hearing impaired community. The reason for this is that almost all of the committee members are deaf or hearing impaired. I hope to share and bring up a new perspective, representing the speech impaired community and augmentative communication users alike.

After the meeting, the President of the Board, Dr. Lucy Miller, and I met, just so she could better orient me to the going ons of DCAB and the CAC. This was a helpful meeting as I got to ask questions and Lucy, in turn, got to know a little more about what I bring to the Board.

It looks like it will be one hectic, but awesome Fall semester. I'm ready to rock 'n roll...Are you?!

Randomness of the week:

My sisters have fun preparing my dad's dinner plate

Brian enjoys lunch from Teddy's Burgers

Pictures from UH Warrior football camp

Brian getting "in the zone" prior to bowling

Lori & I


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