Blindness is a series of slapstick, sometimes terrifying, sometimes funny as hell.
(Taken from the book Cock-eyed: A Memoir, by Ryan Knighton)
(Taken from the book Cock-eyed: A Memoir, by Ryan Knighton)
Nancy Scott, Easton, PA, is a blind essayist and poet. Her over-500 bylines have appeared in magazines, literary journals, anthologies and newspapers, and as audio commentaries. Her third chapbook, co-authored with artist Maryann Riker, is entitled “The Nature of Beyond.
Laura Martinez – World travelers know Charlie Trotter’s restaurant is a culinary experience like no other. What arrives on the table is virtually a work of art.
It all starts in the kitchen, where chefs like Laura Martínez put their heart and soul into their work.
Martínez, 26 years old, is just like everyone else, only she is totally blind.
“We’re like family, no one is like, ‘You can’t do this because you can’t see,’ or anything like that. They treated me like anyone else,” Martínez said.
“It is really quite fascinating to see her in action,” said owner and Chef Charlie Trotter. “To see her make a plate of food, you would say, ‘Oh my God!’ you really wouldn’t even dream this was made by someone who is blind.”
Trotter hired Martínez a year ago while she was still in culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu. He was impressed with not only her cooking — but what he witnessed, a determined student who lacked sight, but exuded passion.
“I was watching her cook and touch food, very delicate with sensitive, tactile awareness to what she was doing,…literally touching boiling oil to get temperatures right,” Trotter said. “She was touching things, seasoning things, even putting together a plate that included fried chicken and layered potatoes au gratin.”
Martínez remembers the moment too.
“He came in, he tasted my food, and he offered me a job,” she said. “I was in kind of a big shock. He was the first person to offer me an opportunity to work in a real industry like this.”
Anyone who has spent time in a working kitchen knows it can be a little dangerous because of the fire and the knives you are using. Martínez is not afraid of anything in Trotter’s world-class kitchen, and in fact, she likes to live life on the edge.
Her hands are her eyes. And she uses them to roll dough, make pasta, place food on the fire, and chop vegetables with large knives — her favorite kitchen tool.
“I just love the danger, the way you play with them,” Martínez said. “You have to control the knife, not the knife control you. I got used to them. The more I used them, the more I liked them.”
Being blind was only part of the challenge Martínez faced growing up.
She comes from humble beginnings and is the youngest of five siblings. Her family thought a culinary career was impossible.
Now she knows better. Martínez says being blind or challenged doesn’t mean you can’t envision a better life.
“Stop using an excuse; whether it’s your money, disability or your laziness or whatever,” she said. “You can do what ever you want to do, it’s up to you. No one is going to come up to you and say, ‘Hey you wanna do this?’ It’s up to you.”
For many, working alongside Chef Trotter would mean they have reached their goal. But Martínez says the next thing she wants to do is open a restaurant of her own. Hers will feature a fusion of Asian and Mexican fare. She’s got a big supporter in her corner –Chef Trotter — who has no doubt she’ll be great.
“In the meantime, she is contributing. So, that’s the win-win for everybody,” Trotter said.
Marilyn Brandt Smith’s writings reflect memories of her childhood at the Texas School for the Blind (1955) and at home on a ranch in south Texas. She taught children in summer programs and adults in year-round rehabilitation centers and in their homes. Marilyn also worked as a counselor and a director of rehabilitation for several agencies across the country. She is now totally blind and lives with my family in a hundred-year-old home in Louisville, Kentucky.
Erik Weihenmayer (born September 23, 1968) is the first blind person to reach the summit of Mount Everest, on May 25, 2001. He also completed the Seven Summits in September 2002. His story was covered in a Time article in June 2001 titled Blind to Failure. He is the author of Touch the Top of the World: A Blind Man’s Journey to Climb Farther Than the Eye can
After he became blind, at first, Weihenmayer did not want to use a cane or learn Braille. He wanted to prove that he could continue living as he had. He tried to play ball, but once he understood that he was incapable of doing so, he learned to wrestle. In high school he went all the way to the National Junior Freestyle Wrestling Championship in Iowa. At that time he started using a guide dog. Then he went to Boston College and graduated as an English major. He became a middle-school teacher and wrestling coach. In 1997, he married Ellie Reeve The wedding took place at Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. They have a daughter, Emma.
Erik is an acrobatic skydiver, long distance biker, marathon runner, skier, mountaineer, ice climber, and rock climber. He is a friend of Sabriye Tenberken, whom he visited in Tibet to climb with teenagers from the school for the blind. A documentary film based on the project, Blindsight, was released in 2006. Another documentary, Fellowship of the Andes, was produced by Dutch filmmaker Bernd Out. The film shows how Erik inspires a team of blind and visually impaired students on their mountain trek across the Andes in June 2006. In addition, Erik is an active speaker on the lecture circuit. He is represented by Leading Authorities speakers bureau.
In 2011, he competed on ABC’s Expedition Impossible.
(Excerpt from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erik_Weihenmayer)
I am starting a new movement. Blind Is Beautiful! And why not? There have been all kinds of movements: the women’s movement, flower people, black power, gay pride. Well, you can belong to any or all of those groups and ALSO belong to my movement. Movements build solidarity and confidence and that’s just what we need. Living with blindness builds strength and character and that’s what we have.
Don’t laugh! How can blind possibly be beautiful, you ask? For starters, we have exceptional extra-sensory perception. We see with our ears and our noses and even intuition. That’s almost like super powers. Beautiful!
For another thing, what seeing person can take a deep breath and step out of the door into the big world with their eyes closed – every day? Exactly. That alone makes us courageous. Beautiful!
And how many people can bump into the “Don’t Walk Here” cones or even a street pole, shake it off and keep walking as if that didn’t just happen? Now that is resilient. Beautiful!
Visually impaired people do have heightened senses, we are courageous and resilient. We may have to remind ourselves of that from time to time but it is true. We can think of famous people through history that were blind who have inspired the world. We can think of famous people today that are blind and affect peoples’ lives through music, words or actions. We may be every-day people but we are not ordinary and we all inspire others in one way or another.
I am inspired by the man who is completely blind and navigates his way through the city with only a cane or a guide dog to assist. I’m inspired by the woman who keeps the office running and can navigate the computer like someone with 20/20 vision. There are big accomplishments like blind people who have their own businesses or are in charge of programs. But just as importantly, I am inspired by the person in the support group that shares a personal experience that makes everyone else in the room feel more hopeful and not so alone.
Every day brings new challenges and every day we persevere. Yes, we sometimes feel pain and sadness but we also sing and dance and laugh. We are life. We are art.
I am starting a new movement. So join the movement and spread the word. Blind is beautiful and we are proud and we are here to stay!
Alec Templeton – (July 4, 1909, March 28, 1963) was a satirist and pianist who had moved from Wales to the United States where he played with several orchestras, eventually making it to his first radio performances on the Rudy Vallee Show, The Chase and Sanbourn Hour,The Magic Key and Kraft Music Hall. The way he would memorize his scripts before the show was by asking someone to read them 20 times in a row while he would listen. He was blind from birth but it did not stop him to doing what he wanted to do in life.