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August 20th, 2007

10:51 pm

Oh, what a crappy day! This afternoon, Cinnabar and I went on our first freelance route. That means that I picked the destination, planned the route and was given a time limit in which to get to my destination and come back to the downtown lounge. The instructors backed off and left us on our own to work things out. They were lingering nearby to swoop in if we got into trouble, but the plan was for us to do the route independently. Unfortunately, Mike had to do a lot of swooping in for me today. I totally screwed this one up.

I decided to go to the Lighthouse for the Blind. They sell lots of crap that blind people use, like canes, talking clocks and that kind of thing. I didn’t have anything in particular that I was shopping for, but I figured I might find something useful and it was a good place to become familiar with in case I decided I really did need something while I’m here.

So, the place is about 4 blocks from the lounge and we had 45 minutes to make the trip. I hauled ass out the door with a full head of steam. I got to the first street crossing and made the same damn mistake I made on Saturday. I got in too much of a hurry, misread traffic and crossed on a red light again. I was so pissed off. The trip was all down hill from there. On the next street crossing, Cinnabar totally flew over the down curb without stopping. The curbs in San Rafael are really flat, so it is not that hard to miss them completely. So, Cinnabar took me across a street and I didn’t even realize we were in the street until she stopped for the up curb. That is totally ridiculous for me not to realize that I had crossed a street even if the curbs are flat. . By this point I was seething with rage. I was really freaked and was having trouble trusting Cinnabar when we approached streets. I was also second guessing myself on my traffic reading abilities. I was totally flustered and frustrated. I made myself go into the Lighthouse just to give myself a chance to chill out. I bought some new sock locks (doohickeys that keep your socks together in the laundry so they stay matched up and you don’t lose them) while I was there and checked out a few other things but I really wasn’t in a shopping mood.

I calmed down a little, but I was still pretty much off my game on my way back to the lounge. Cinnabar missed another curb, although it was an up curb this time, so that’s not as scary. It’s not a good thing, but at least I wasn’t out in the middle of the street without realizing it. I also became rather hesitant and indecisive with my street crossings. It was a ginormous mess. I was devastated by the time I got back to the lounge. As far as I am concerned, that route was a complete disaster. I am surprised they didn’t just take my dog away and send me home. I totally sucked ass and am lucky I didn’t get us run over. I tried to keep myself together, but I just couldn’t do it. I was kind of upset for awhile but I’m better now.

I suppose I should focus on the fact that even though I had all those issues, I still made it back unscathed. But I am pretty hard on myself and my ability to accept my mistakes is somewhat lacking. I had a chance later to talk to some of the retrain students and the peer counselors who are GDB grads. They all told me to relax and shared some of their horror stories and made me feel better. They all pointed out that I have been using a guide dog for less than two weeks and I am supposed to be making mistakes. If using a guide dog were easy, they’d just ship them to your house and send you some instructional CDs. I have made a lot of progress in those two weeks and seem to be handling the dog pretty well so all of this stuff that I am dealing with should improve with experience. It’s just hard to look at it that way after a day like today.

I think it is pretty significant that I have screwed up trips by rushing through my first street crossing twice now. I have to break this trend. I really need to focus on cooling my jets when I start a route. Cinnabar is always so ready to go when we start out. She hauls ass and actually goes a bit too fast so that I feel like she is dragging me down the street. I let her excitement and impatience get to me and become too impatient myself. That is clearly getting us into trouble. My goal for tomorrow is to control the pace when we start out and focus at my first street crossing. Instead of thinking of the trip as one event, I am going to try to think of it as a bunch of little trips connected by street crossings. I must make myself start every block like it is my first one. If a block goes bad, I have to forget about it and do better on the next one. Conversely, if it goes well, I need to forget about it instead of letting it get me over confident.

I am planning to go to the pet store on my route tomorrow. It is a shorter trip and will give me plenty of time to slow down and focus on what I am doing. It will also give me a chance to pick up some things for Cinnabar like booties and poop bags. Yes, I said I am buying booties for my dog. Laugh all you want, but the pavement gets really hot and all the dogs have been dancing around while waiting to cross streets. Guide dogs aren’t like pets. Pet dogs have the freedom to keep moving on hot pavement or seek out shade, but a guide dog has to stand still for several minutes at a time for traffic and spends a lot more time on pavement than your average pet. Cinnabar’s comfort is more important to me than fashion sense, so I’m getting booties. Anyone who thinks that’s funny can bite my ass.

My class went into San Francisco yesterday for a little outing. This was a sightseeing trip, not a class work thing so I didn’t get to take Cinnabar. We went to fisherman’s Wharf for a little while. The trip was kind of disappointing. We spent more time driving there and back than we actually spent at the Wharf. We went to a chocolate store and a t-shirt shop, then loaded up and went back to school. Most of the class went and we were taken by a couple of nice volunteers who take students out once per class. I heard some trolley cars driving by which was kind of cool, but I didn’t really get that much out of the trip. Places all look the same to me now and I am still trying to figure out how to appreciate new places.

Cinnabar wasn’t too happy about me being gone for 3 hours. She shredded her rug that she sleeps on. I am really going to have to work with her on this chewing business. I think she will out grow it as she matures and as she gets more comfortable with me, but it is definitely something I will have to monitor.

I’m off to bed now. I am so ready for this day to be over. I need a fresh start. Hopefully I’ll be back tomorrow with some good news. Later.