Archive | June 2012

Possibilities – Blind Conventions 1

NFB Convention, Detroit 2009

The first few days of convention are filled with Division meetings, meaning that instead of meeting as a huge assembly (that will come later), at any given time there are several different special interest groups meeting at once. Parents of blind children, blind parents, seniors, diabetics, piano tuners, ham radio operators, lawyers, antique car enthusiasts, crafters, technology buffs, they all have divisions and meetings. There are also meetings for new members, presentations from different schools for the blind, presentations by guide dog schools where you can “test drive” a guide dog, meetings on how to build up local chapters, demos of new adaptive technology, plays put on where the directors and actors are all blind, salsa dance classes taught, attended and deejayed by blind folks, a mock trial put on by blind lawyers and the list goes on. We take frequent breaks in our room because the stories are true, it is a little overwhelming.

There’s also the Independence Market, a technology and adaptive aid exhibit hall in one of the hotel ballrooms and it is something to behold. Along every inch of every wall, and through several makeshift hallways in the center, there are endless tables and displays, each draped in a different company logo. Most of the booths feature technology items—braille notetakers, digital book readers, screen-reading software packages, handheld iPhone-shaped gadgets that act as magnifiers and also play music and videos. Apple is there with the real iPhones, which are accessible right out of the box, the new technology rage among the blind. There are several flavors of talking medical supplies, every size and shape of magnifier and audible GPS devices. There are random non-techie booths, like the FBI doing job recruiting, and a booth selling Braille Bibles brailled in over 27 languages, including several Indian ones like Hindi and Malayalam.

I go by myself to the science and engineering division meeting, where I meet people who are interning for NASA and a totally blind girl who’s majoring in biochemistry who guesses people’s heights (while they are sitting down) by voice. Even though I’m slightly slouching, she guesses my 5’7” spot on. The NASA thing gets me. When I was younger, I thought I wanted to do something like that when I grew up, but back then my visual impairment would have been a deal-breaker. That’s one of the great things about a convention like this: you get to really see that things are changing, that blind people are making inroads and finding success in all kinds of careers and hobbies.


This is an excerpt from the essay “Blind Conventions,” a recounting of my first experience at a blind convention held by the NFB. This piece is apropos because I’m currently en route to my 2nd NFB convention. I’m sure there will be lots of fun crazy, funny, weird and inspiring stories that I’ll be tweeting along the way! These conventions are always surreal.

You can check out other Friday Samples here. And don’t forget you can always check out Published and Older Works for more samples.

~Emilia J

The Killing: Crime Writing, Endings and the Season 2 Finale

The Killing (U.S. TV series)

The Killing (U.S. TV series)

Last week, I wrote about Breaking Bad and endings in this post, and today I’m going to look at another show’s season ending, and discuss some writerly things about endings in general, particularly for crime writing.

Spoiler Alert: If you aren’t caught up and don’t know who did it, go get caught up…then come back.

Sunday, June 17th was the big Season 2 finale of AMC’s The Killing. Like with Breaking Bad, I came to The Killing late in the game and just started watching it this year. There are a lot of things I really like about this show, most notably atmosphere.

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Holy Crap, Dawson’s Creek Just Quoted Harry Chapin

harrychapin dawsonscreek

What kind of alternate universe am I living in?

Apparently one alternate enough that I am actually watching Dawson’s Creek. I never watched it when it was on, even though I was right around that age. It just never appealed to me. I wasn’t watching much TV then and when I did it was pretty much just The X-Files. But then after the end of the past school year, I was just looking for some TV to relax to, something to help me unwind from the insane intensity of the last year, something that wouldn’t really make me think, and a friend suggested Dawson’s Creek.

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A Song to Discuss Into the Night

crowsDuring the spring of my freshman year of college, I stayed up late a lot, usually on really rainy nights it seemed, and talked to people on IRC chats who I knew through a music forum. I was on the east coast so even though it was really late for me, after all kinds of other activities, it wasn’t as late for people in other time zones. We talked about music, books and movies, music, our lives, music, the meaning of life, the future of the universe, and more music.

Around this same time, I really got into Counting Crows. I had never paid them all that much attention to them in the “Mr. Jones” heyday but a college friend lent me “August and Everything After” and “This Desert Life” and I was instantly enamored. There are so many great songs on those albums.

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NaNoWriMo Summer Camp

Recently, while perusing some different WordPress blogs, I came across this post on Michelle Proulx Official. It intrigued me because it’s all about NaNoWriMo in summer camp form.

Gazebo at a Summer Camp

So NaNoWriMo, for those who aren’t familiar, stands for National Novel Writing Month. It usually happens in November and lots and lots of writers set out to write 50,000 words that month. That’s 1,666.7 words a day. It’s a bit of a tall order but people do it. And people who don’t finish might still have twenty or thirty thousand more words than they would have without it. I’ve heard it’s fun, too. There are forums and neat little badges for blogs and websites so there’s a community feel of sorts. You’re all together in this mad rush, intense, working-your-ass-off epic quest (a little like taking organic chemistry). It’s kind of insane. And yet, it’s also really inspiring just to think about.

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Why Breaking Bad Needs Season 5

Jesse and Walt in their cook suits © AMC TV

Spoiler Alert: If you aren’t caught up with Breaking Bad, in particular the end of Season 4, stop now and get caught up…then come back.

First, a little background. I was way, way late coming to this show. And it’s not like I hadn’t heard about it. Last summer I took a TV scriptwriting class with Thom Bray and a few people in the class (including Thom) would talk about the amazingness of Breaking Bad. I kept putting it off because who wants to get into something that intense when you’re already in the middle of all these intense science classes and your brain needs to relax, not amp up?

But then one day in organic chemistry class, the professor brought it up. We were learning about reductive amination, a reaction that transforms a ketone or aldehyde into an amine, and he mentioned that it’s the reaction they talk about on the show (in the famous “Yeah Science!” scene). Later that night I finished watching another show (okay, it was Gossip Girl) on Netflix and needed something new to watch and loaded up the pilot episode. And that was it. I don’t think I did anything else for the next week, at least. Instant obsession. Almost immediately, I started discussing the show with anyone who would listen, in real life and online.

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My Face

I can’t read the nuances of faces but mine is a direct display of every undulation in my emotional current. My face is a one-way mirror.

Still, others often don’t see my personal, particular face.

People sometimes asked if my albino friend and I were twins. We were nine years apart and my face was longer, drawn while hers was rounder, more full. Worse yet, at an albinism conference, my dad came up to the girl next to me and told her it was time to go, mistaking her for me.

My face is at once expressive, transparent and invisible.


This is from a class I took called Personal Essay Writing. The assignment was to write about your face in EXACTLY 100 words. No more, no less. It led to a lot of obsessive editing.

You can check out other Friday Samples here. And don’t forget you can always check out Published and Older Works for more samples.

~Emilia J.

Foraging Into the Blogosphere

My name is Emilia Jordan. Some people call me Emmy J or EJ but I usually just go by Emilia. I’m a writer, dabbling in different forms and genres, and I’m starting this blog in hopes of connecting and talking with readers, other writers and interesting people of all flavors.

I plan to blog about writing, whether it’s about the primal creative flow; crafting that flow into something more, well, crafty; the love of language and letters; fitting writing into a busy life; getting writing insights from TV, movies, books, music and art; writing groups; the publishing process; or my pet favorite topic, the importance of story. We might do some writing exercises on here, take some polls, have some guest blog posts by other bloggers and writers, discuss our writing favorites and just overall have some freakin’ fun with the written word. A lot of it will be really interactive so I hope you’ll all join in and have some lively discussions, recommendations, opinions, debates, throw-down drag-out flame wars (kidding) and inspiration.

A little about my writing: One of my earliest memories is of sitting on my dad’s lap at age three or so, while my parents went over the letters in the alphabet and what sound they each make. Not long after that, they got a Wheel of Fortune board game. I didn’t know enough to be able to really play, so my parents would make up puzzles out of simple words I did know based around my favorite letter, W: winter, window, flower, snow. And thus began my lifelong love affair with words. In elementary school, I was writing little “books” that were just a few pages long and thinly-veiled mimics of Nancy Drew and The Baby-Sitters Club, and making my family read and rank them.

In high school, I wrote a bunch of short stories, usually with a sci-fi-ish twist, some involving ridiculous characters (there was one who was named after the lead singer of Alice in Chains and spoke in grunge music lyrics) and they’re almost all at least somewhat mortifying. Still, I posted some of the stories, for entertainment under Older Works in the Samples and Excerpts section. After that, I got into a lot of memoir writing, including a full manuscript (which needs some reworking, more about that in future posts) and personal essay writing. Recently, I’ve also started dabbling with screenwriting and TV scriptwriting. I want to continue to explore all these different forms and how they inform each other. I’ll put up some writing samples (don’t worry, they won’t all be from the bowels of my high school-era treasure trove), descriptions of current projects, and snippets and pieces from works in progress.

A little about myself: I have albinism, which means I have really, really pale skin, hair and eyes, and that I’m legally blind. It’s made for an interesting life, to ya know, understate it just a little. Since this is a major topic in my personal essay and memoir writing, and something that the average person doesn’t know a lot about or may have drastic misconceptions about, blindness will definitely be a recurring topic here. I’m already thinking of some potential guest blind bloggers that I hope you’ll enjoy.

Another main theme here will be TV. I watch way too much of it, but there is a lot that us writers can learn from all that watching. TV is a major way that stories are told these days. I watch a handful of shows, but I will give you a heads up from the start that I’m currently really into (read: pretty freakin’ obsessed with) AMC’s Breaking Bad and in my mind, it’s just rich and brimming with insights for writers, or storymakers of any sort, so there’ll be a lot of that type of dissection going on here on this blog. Seriously, if you haven’t already, go watch it. Best show on television, though definitely not for everyone.

There are a few other topics that I expect will play a lesser but not wholly insignificant role here. One is science. I’m a science student right now (and should really be studying organic chemistry right now, instead of trying to cajole you into watching a show about a badass kinda evil organic chemist) so science will no doubt seep in. Plus, David Foster Wallace made it cool to let that inner nerd slide into the writing. On an almost opposite note, I’ve spent a lot of time dabbling in the metaphysical–I’ve done astrology and tarot readings for years–so that’s bound to come up too. As will music, movies, books and other random crap, I’m sure.

But I always want the underlying theme (for the most part, anyway) to be the written word, and story.

~Emilia J