Gen Con: View from the chair (part 2)

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Today was the day… Gen Con after months of preparation on many arenas, the gaming conference extraordinaire was to begin. And begin it did! Though I’m certain the crowds will feel thicker in days to come, booths certainly looked busy enough. From T.R.’s past experiences, we knew that attendees should plan to purchase the highest priority game first thing in the morning. But this blog isn’t about things we purchased – it will focus on accessibility, and what we did.

First, I have to say that we are quite pleased with our downtown hotel! The Springhill Suites not only offered a handicap-friendly room (that fit ADA standards better than many accessible hotel rooms we’ve visited in the past), but the tables in the public breakfast room are even the proper build that a wheelchair can slide in appropriately. One other reason that we chose this hotel is that it is part of the “skywalk” network leading to the Convention Center. This may sound petty to some readers, but one weather-related MS symptom I face is heat intolerance. If air temperature is over 80 degrees, my energy drains quite horribly. With today’s heat index predicted to reach near 100, I would feel like a pool of jello, unable to move. So suffice it to say, I appreciated the skywalk, even though the route became less direct.

I will admit that our experience was a little less typical, as T.R. is managing the booth of the British company Modiphius, so our family members had “exhibitor” badges. (My husband and daughter are spending each afternoon working in the booth, and they completed much of the set-up work Tuesday and Wednesday. They’ve earned those badges!

Angie badgeToday held more unique bits of adventure than I had foreseen! The first main game we purchased included something special about events like Gen Con: our family was able to demo it, instructed by somebody who knew more about the game than we did. “Hogwarts Battle” was a fun cooperative game, and I even had the chance to play a favorite character, Hermione Granger! Because we played the game there, we each received a ribbon of a Hogwarts House of our choice, so you may notice the “Hufflepuff” ribbon in my badge. We also purchased and perused “Star Trek Panic,” so our family members received Star Trek ribbons for our badges. In honor of my parents, I picked “medical officer.”]

 

I have been a part of game play at Gen Con before, but the Harry Potter game table was set up in such a way that I could sit at the table, my knees didn’t hit strangely, and I didn’t feel like an outsider. Neat indeed! The Convention Center also keeps very tight watch over aisles and such. Not only did we find that people acted courteously in general, but there were even times when two or three wheelchairs were traveling almost the exact same path, side-by-side or in a line. Kinda crazy.

What made the day particularly special? For me, the people! Because T.R. has been completing Freelance projects for a number of publishers, I have heard different names,

even heard voices on podcasts we often listen to. I’ll post a few snapshots here to give an idea of neat interactions we had. One other wasn’t photographed, but I had to mention it here… I enjoyed a fun little conversation with Andrew Looney! I told him of the neat exchange I’d had during our church game day. A game card in Fluxx is signed by him to Angie fluxxme, to be particularly used as a “friend” – and I can attest that he really does look like this illustration!

This is an unusual report for me, as Friday, for me will involve an exciting Writer’s Conference at Taylor University. With so much on my plate this weekend, do I regret spending time and energy attending Gen Con? My answer is simple: not at all! This conference has offered our family an enjoyable, engaging, and memorable time. Our country has come a long way since the ADA was enacted twenty-six years ago, and this slice of gaming time demonstrated to me that physical accommodation has become purposeful, considerate, and expected. Kudos to Indianapolis, the Convention Center, and all who help Gen Con meet its goal to be the Best Four Days of Gaming!

 

Gen Con – views from the chair (part one)

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Games: a frequent theme of life in the Knight house. My husband T.R. adores games, and our family enjoys them together in many ways. He not only taught a “Game Studies” course last semester at Taylor University last semester, but he helped organize a “Family Game Night” at our church in July. One reason he and I have enjoyed more games together is simple: board and card games create great activities we can experience in full despite disability.

Over the past four or five years, he has also become more a part of the professional side of gaming. Gradually, he started volunteering for a European game company that was to have a booth in Indianapolis. Then he got to know those in the industry better, and he started freelancing, primarily as a proofreader. Fast forward a few years there, and you will find all four of the Knight Family members at Gen Con.

Gen Con, “The Best Four Days in Gaming,” will find scads of people filling the Indianapolis Convention Center, even spilling into Lucas Oil Stadium this year. Estimates predict 60-70,000 attendees this year, making this event the largest Indy tourist attraction of the year, a larger financial boost for the city than the Indy 500 or NCAA finals.

IMG_0657.JPGIMG_0652How does this affect me? We arrived early, as T.R. and our daughters spent time yesterday and today helping set up a booth, where they’ll be working for a few hours each afternoon. With this large of an event, participants also pick up tickets early. And this is the second way the Convention Center really impressed me! After dinner, we decided to see if we could pick up and exchange a few tickets, changes we had made since sign-up a few months ago. A long line, twenty to thirty minutes long, we were told, snaked through a hallway then around a group of turnstiles. We weren’t certain a wheelchair could make those turns, and T.R. saw a sign near the line’s end that read “Special Services.”

The kind, patient folks helped all four of us with our ticket switches! Being in a wheelchair may not hold a lot of bonuses, but this certainly ranked up there. If this was the second, what was the first? It came in January, when Gen Con attendees are first able to reserve hotel rooms. Because we needed to reserve a handicap accessible room, we were allowed to hold a room before the official time window opened. Proof to me that sometimes, one needs to plan ahead. And ask. Also a demonstration of the professional hospitality one can find in our great state.

I already feel more encouraged about tomorrow’s Gen Con time – you’ll be hearing from me then, as I describe my “view from this chair.”

Day 27 – Thirty Days of Thanks – nineteen years and counting

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Nineteen years ago on this date, the air felt decidedly hot. And quite humid. And very sunny. (Of course it was… it was July in Indiana.)  So what made it memorable? July 30, 1997 was the day of the official word, the day that Dr. Stevens confirmed that the preliminary June diagnosis was correct: I have Multiple Sclerosis.

Nineteen years later, this journey continues. Few wish for struggles, and I admit that I do not enjoy them, but my MS path does indeed contain pieces for which I give thanks. Today’s list will focus on that:

5 things I’m thankful for, highlighted by MS in my life:

  1. Embraced Slowness –I’ve never been super speedy (as my parents and brothers can vehemently attest), but MS has enforced a movement level that has me running races with snails, and sometimes they win. But you know what we’ve discovered? When you refrain from being speedy, you notice and appreciate things you may have missed otherwise. It can be refreshing.
  2. Connections with others –More people than I can count have contacted me for assurance or advice – or commiseration – after receiving a frightening diagnosis. This was never a lesson I had planned to teach, but I’m thankful that I’m able to step in here at times.
  3. Little everyday ADA blessings –I credit the ADA for many bits of blessing, and I am thankful for things like not-too-steep ramps, early boarding for an airplane, and special seats at the theater. I read last year that we are now a part of “Generation ADA” – we have indeed come a long way. I have an understanding here that I never would have before!
  4. Learning the blessing of giving AND receiving –For some of us, giving is a lot simpler, more comfortable, more joyful than receiving. And rightly so… but I have finally realized that by being an appreciative “receiver,” I bless the life of those on the other side of the equation. For a proud and independent type of person, this wasn’t a simple lesson, but I feel that I am experiencing this truth more fully after nineteen years.
  5. Deeper family relationships –Life as it is in the Knight house requires a level of giving, understanding, patience and love that I don’t think would be if not for challenges MS brings our way. My husband and daughters are so very special, and there are bonds within our family that have been strengthened by this thing called MS.

So “Thankful for MS”? Not today. Thankful for (sometimes hidden) blessings that abound? You bet!

 

[Note about “Thirty Days of Thanks”: I continue being thankful, but writing about days 28-30 will actually begin again August 9. As mentioned above, I am indeed slow, and my energy is limited. I will be attending two conferences, and my writing time and energy will be focused there. I love adopting a mental and spiritual posture of thankfulness, and it will be fun to bring my thirty days to a proper close!]

Day 25 – Thirty Days of Thanks – random summer stuff

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Summer break is a time for fun mini-adventures, often within the walls of our house. “Fun” for us may not be what would excite others, but isn’t that part of what makes summer break especially lovely? The chance to pause and enjoy unique blessings – I’ll share a few of those below.

Today’s 5 Thankful Things:

  1. IMG_0613New recipes to try – When I saw “French toast waffles” in a recipe email, I decided to give it a try. And family members made it work – this was fun!
  1. IMG_0619Twinkletoes – or at least painted toenails. Though she has lovely blue-painted nails herself, my kind daughter painted my toenails a beautiful burgundy.
  1. Blog adventures with our girls – On her own blog, twin number one examined the inner struggle she faces IMG_0629while finishing an assignment due at the start of school. She has this final paper almost completed, and the last part of it finds her dragging her heels. (It IS vacation, and I wonder how many AP students will have this assignment finished. This girl will, I know. But that doesn’t mean she has to like it.)
  1. Blog adventure number two – The second sister has been continuing to post on her art blog daily. You may recall that she started the blog in early July – how fun to see the growth that has been taking place!
  1. More game adventures – My husband and his friends have been playing a “legacy” game over the past few months, a game where things change and cards are even torn up as they go. It is so fun to hear these four friends laughing and groaning and cheering and lamenting… proof that games aren’t just for kids. Or that “kids” are defined by more than age.

Day 24 – Thirty Days of Thanks – more writing … and chocolate, too

Continuing from yesterday – writing offers more than five things to be thankful for! So moving on, here are five more reasons I have to be thankful!

So here I go –

Today’s 5 Thankful Things:

  1. Online classes – Last fall, I was able to enroll in “Media Communications,” completing coursework at home and turning it in online. Professor Sara Brookshire was very encouraging. Among other things, I learned that I am not so fond of basic newswriting. I’d rather write something that can contain bits of personality, not just fact.
  1. recorder appSmart phone apps – Many thanks to Sara for introducing me to the “recorder app.” When I completed an interview for a course six years ago, I actually used a cassette recorder that I toted with me. (Yes, I was behind the times, but I didn’t own another portable recording device. Yet.) With a new smartphone, I was able to use a recording app that simplified so much!
  1. Siri Life 2 chocChocolate – As Siri told me just today, chocolate adds meaning to life. Even though I admit life has much Image result for Dove Chocolate Wrapper Quotesmeaning beyond chocolate, I do enjoy sharing words and chocolate with “Writers’ Bloc” frequently. I call these “chocolate fortune cookies,” as Dove chocolates have fun messages we read while enjoying our treats at our weekly lunches.
  1. Spring online class – What an incredible blessing my spring class was! “Nonfiction writing” offered many challenges and rewards. As I learned to hone this craft, life lessons came my way also. Remember my comments about March, how my nervous system turned extra-rebellious? This came to fruition the first full week of class. And it gave me extra reason to persevere – would this teacher let something like a burning tongue or uncooperative legs give excuse for missing an assignment? I think not.
  1. Wonderful instructor and new friend – Kim, a professor from a northern Indiana university, showed patience and skill. Thankfully, she believed me when I shared my reasons for schedule changes and such. But she took me seriously and took me to task as needed. My verbs are becoming more active, my sentences less bloated, and my messages more direct. Okay, sometimes … but I can keep trying. And I have a neat book project in the works!

 

 

Day 23 – Thirty Days of Thanks – about writing

A few words of thanks …

Background to today’s list: when I first decided to become a teacher, I hadn’t been able to decide whether I wanted to study to teach English, science, or general elementary grades (so as not to specialize, and to avoid teenage angst). Thirty years later, life has taken paths beyond my middle school classroom of 1994-97, my grad school years, and my Museum Educator chapter. Even my “adjunct professor” times. And the beautiful Kids Hope adventure.

During this journey, T.R. and others encouraged me to continue taking coursework that allowed me to keep my teaching license current. In order to keep my license renewed, I’ve needed to complete six hours of college coursework every five years. Graduate school classes were staggered enough that the first classes I took for this specific reason were about six years ago. My elementary license also includes middle school science and language arts, so I was thrilled to have the chance to take two writing courses to meet the licensure requirements..

Eight years ago, my writing adventure launched in an unexpected way. Our area newspaper, the Marion Chronicle-Tribune, put out a call for community bloggers. As T.R. and I discussed, we has an idea: blog about the challenges faced by those dealing with disabilities. These topics are often misunderstood, usually unseen. “Invisible Issues,” one could say.

Six years ago, I enrolled in “Freelance Writing” and “Creative Writing.” License was renewed. Five years later, I completed “Media Writing” and “Nonfiction Writing.” Each of these four courses helped me grow in so many ways, and I do feel like a better person because of it! And definitely a better writer. (One who is willing to purposefully break grammatical rules, for instance … but only if she knows she is doing it.)

So my point here? Writing: is this how I am now meant to teach? Without the physical wherewithal to lead a middle school, college, or elementary classroom, shall I hone my writing abilities so that God can use these tools in ways I hadn’t planned? So begins today’s thankful list:

Today’s 5 Thankful things:

  1. Thank you to patient college professorsDr. Hensley and Dr. Householder both tolerated this student, two decades older than the other class members. I felt a little younger myself, and I hope I helped teach them a tad bit. This was in 2010 and 2011, when I was the slow student with the floral folding cane. Doc Hensley taught me to stop splitting my infinitives, among other things.
  1. Thank you to my supportive husband – Though I had planned to attend Gen Con with him next week, he arranged things so that I could also attend Taylor’s Writer’s Conference in August. What a beautiful gift, meaning more than I think he realized!
  1. Business cards – How cool is it that one can design business cards, then have a box of
    image1100 delivered to your door less than a week later? Awesome! Thank you to T.R. for designing them and to Zazzle for printing. (Of course they had a special also. Even online, I try to follow my mom’s example to use coupons and catch sales whenever possible.)
  1. Thank you to Writers’ Bloc – our writer’s group that meets weekly or so, encouraging each of us to continue writing, and offering friendship along the way.
  1. A laptop on which to type – Particularly after my laptop died in early June, I gained an even greater appreciation for this technology. What a wonderful gift this is!

Day 22 – Thirty Days of Thanks

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This lovely but HOT Sunday held many things for which I am thankful, but I’ll narrow it down for brevity’s sake.

Today’s 5 Thankful things:

  1. Air conditioning! – With today’s temperatures climbing to around 90 degrees Fahrenheit (heat index over 100), I was very thankful for air conditioning!
  1. Willis Carrier – I am thankful for this American engineer who first designed a heating plant, then a lumber drying kiln, and even a coffee dryer before developing carrierthe first-ever air conditioner for a Brooklyn Lithography and Printing company. He was only twenty-five years old when he developed this design, and his invention changed the world!
  1. Blackberry jam – As each new day finds scads of blackberries for us to pick from our garden, I am blessed that T.R. and the girls were able to make several jars of jam for us to save and share.
  1. Blackberries to share – What fun it is to share berries with our friends and neighbors! Picking them becomes a little morIMG_0463e enjoyable when the weather cools a bit… and I will be thankful when it does.
  1. Writing – I am so thankful for opportunities over
    the past year to grow as a writer! Reading today’s blog, I see many imperfections, but I am thankful that I am developing a better eye for noticing those errors. More thoughts here will come over the next few days!

Day 21 – Thirty Days of Thanks – playing together

Today’s 5 Thankful things:

  1.  Game night! – Our church had its first “Game Night” yesterday evening – more than fifty people came together to enjoy card and board games! Lots of fun for ages 13-82, and everything in between.
  1. Showing that adults can have fun, too – How Image-1fun to teach new games and play them with friends last night. It is so fun to teach “Fluxx” to people who hadn’t seen it before.
  1. School supply time – it’s rather crazy to think that school begins in just a few weeks, but it does … and that means school supplies are on sale!
  1. New sharpies – “Sharpie” markers are the BEST, and back-to-school sale time is the best time to snatch them up. Sales are wonderful!
  1. Family movie time – We enjoy watching movies together as a family, and we had a delightful time watching the extras from “Zootopia.” We enjoyed this movie when we first saw it in March, and now that we purchased it on DVD, we are appreciating it even more.

Day 20 – Thirty Days of Thanks

Today’s 5 Thankful things:

  1. Skype – How lovely to chat with our friends, Dave and Heidi! I still feel like I’m living in the world of “The Jetsons” when I talk at a screen, then see and hear a response. Amazing – and even more wonderful is the chance to spend an hour sharing with friends, being able to look into their eyes as we share about our lives.
  1. Sharing veggies with friends – and spending the morning with our lovely friend Armila, who picked some berries then helped Em and Rach pull someDaisy stubborn weeds. (Thank you, Armila, for the weeding assistance!) I also appreciate how we all agreed that “weeds” with pretty flowers are only pulled if it’s to place them in a vase. (That is where my little white daisies keep coming from.)
  1. Music stores – the kind that sell instruments, not img_0584albums. We visited a Fort Wayne music store that we’d seen the name of but hadn’t visited… and a seventeen-year-old was able to test play different saxes to consider the
    purchase of a new one really soon. Neat trip!
  1. Missing the rain – I love it when rain is just starting as we walk into a store, we hear it pounding above while we’re inside, and it stops as we exit an hour later. And our formerly dusty vehicle now looks sparkly clean!
  1. Fruit cobbler – Baked on Wednesday, T.R.’s large dish of blackberry cobbler left goodness that can still be shared over the next couple of days. Yum!

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    fresh, warm cobbler with frozen yogurt

Day 19 – Thirty Days of Thanks

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Today’s 5 Thankful things – keeping smiles alive:

  1. Dentists – I am thankful for a patient and talented dentist who helped us identify a problem back in early March. Thinking the extreme pain in my mouth was due to a cavity, he helped this girl who couldn’t even speak due to mouth pain… he found that it wasn’t a tooth, but he asked a funny question: “Have you ever had neurological problems?” He’s a new dentist to me, but he learned quickly that almost half of my life has been shaped by a mismanaged nervous system. When I saw Dr. Maddox yesterday, he was thrilled that I can speak and eat, while my tongue and teeth cooperate.
  1. Dental Hygienists – What a thankless job I think it would be to work at cleaning somebody else’s teeth. I can only imagine unpleasant breath that could emanate, and one wouldn’t be able to carry on a conversation with somebody while playing on their ivories. But Julie, Candice, and Stephanie have managed to help manage my dental stuff quite nicely – and always with a smile!
  1. Pasta – We always try to have soft food like pasta on days a daughter has an orthodontist appointment, and even though teeth cleaning doesn’t cause sore teeth, we enjoyed pasta last night. One doesn’t always need “reasons” for food choices. And this was a pasta dish that used zucchini, a very good thing.
  1. Toothbrushes and toothpaste – During March, the nerves in my tongue were uncooperative and recoiled when anything came near, particularly an electric toothbrush. I was so glad when medication helped tame those nerves, and my mouth could feel clean again.
  1. Reminder phone calls – I remembered this month’s appointment, but there are months that I don’t have it on the calendar. It’s then that I am extremely thankful for the little phone call I receive a day or two before an appointment, reminding me of an appointment I scheduled six months ago.

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