thoughts on the noughties

I should probably start with all the enjoyable things that O.J and I have done this year. If I didn’t have this blog I probably wouldn’t remember half of them!

In February I returned to the guide dog centre for the first time since I got O.J, and was lucky enough to meet O.J’s
puppywalkers
On the way, Which was really enjoyable for all of us. I would definitely advise anybody with a guide dog to bring it back to visit its puppywalker if possible.
In May I finally finished a guide dogs
radio documentary
that i’d been working on in my spare time for six months. I’m not sure if it was worth all the effort, but it was something I thought might be worth making, and when I start working on something, I really want to get it done.

O.J and I went on our first flight alone together to
Cheshire.
We had great fun and met so many lovely children. Hopefully we can do that again next year.
In June we were both lucky enough to meet
Christy Moore
After his gig in the Plaza in Buncrana. My cousin spotted a photo of me shaking hands with him up in the Plaza the other night. Well it was at 3 in the morning and she’d had a few drinks and I thought she was making it up! I don’t even have a photo. You can’t see my face, but its there anyway. The shame!

In July we met
Roy Keane
Who is the patron of Irish guide dogs, and
Josh Ritter
In October.
We had enjoyable trips to
Galway
And
Dublin.

I also did some fun things without O.J, like going on a family holiday, having parties and nights out with the girls, going to lots of gigs, including Bruce Springsteen again, and interviewing
Christy from Aslan.
O.J felt left out at the time but has forgiven me since.

As for the noughties…
It doesn’t seem like ten years ago since the millennium, when everybody was celebrating the beginning of the 21st century. So much has happened in the last ten years, and there have been many highlights. I think I had two favourite years, 2003 and 2007.

I had my school formal/debs at the beginning of 2003. Its the school party that every final year student looks forward to, when you get a night out with all your teachers and friends. The weeks beforehand are spent preparing, and the week after looking at photos and talking about the night. The teachers eventually get annoyed because no work gets done.
In June I did my leaving cert, which seems like the most important exam in the world at the time. I went to see Bon Jovi the day after my exams finished. The special Olympics was held in Ireland, and began the week of my final exam. There was a great positive atmosphere in the country, and even though I’m not very sporty, I enjoyed watching it.

In August I got my leaving cert results, and did better than I had hoped. I got accepted to queens to do the course I wanted to do, and found out while I was on holiday in Majorca.
The end of September was the start of university life and living in Belfast was great fun. I met lots of new people and made new friends. I learned a lot in the first few weeks. I also lost my godfather during this time, which was a big shock and a tough time for everybody. I visited him twice that summer and still remember those visits like it was yesterday.

2003 was a busy year for discovering new music and going to gigs. I think I saw the frames or Glen Hansard 4 times, and Christy Moore for the first time, at the Lisdoonvarna festival in the R.D.S, which was the perfect gig for Irish music fans, because everybody good at the time performed that day. I went to my first match in Croke Park the next day, Donegal V Armagh. We lost and I haven’t been to a match there since.

2007 was another amazing year. I started work placements, where I was introduced to the radio station where I am still a volunteer. I got a personal assistant which enabled me to become more independent. I turned 21 in February and had a house party with most of my family and friends there to celebrate.
In April my second nephew Danny was born. He’s one of the most lovable, amazing little boys I have ever met.
In May I started work at the VAC in Derry, where I still have a job. I loved what I was doing and the work was completely accessible. The people were so helpful and I quickly felt welcomed there.

In June I got the phone call I’d been waiting for for years, that I might possibly be getting a guide dog. The timing couldn’t have been better. I went to Cork on June 22nd, and I went for a walk with this big black dog who completely changed my life. I didn’t think you could possibly pick the happiest day of your life, but I think that was it.
I spent August training with O.J and had so much fun. This was better than anything i’d ever learned in school or college. I also started this blog around this time, and its been great to look back at how much O.J’s work has improved since then.
I didn’t think i’d be bothered keeping this blog for so long, and I didn’t think people would be so interested to leave comments. I have met lots of interesting people online, and met up with some bloggers too. It has been great fun and hopefully it will be even better in 2010. Thanks everyone for keeping me entertained, and making me feel that writing here isn’t a complete waste of time.

Happy new year. I hope the next one is a good one.
Jen and OJ

Christmas 09

It’s that time after Christmas and before new year, when you’re so relaxed you couldn’t be bothered doing anything, you go to bed late and get up late, and you can’t think what day it is anymore. I love it!

We had a very busy Christmas day, but it was lots of fun. I stayed in my sister’s house to see my nephews getting their Santa presents. The two-year-old was so excited about getting boxers in his stocking, because now “he is a big boy!” He’s delighted with his JCB tractor, even though he insisted that Santa was bringing him a John deer. We had some family over for breakfast and pancakes, which we’ve never done before. My mum did a Christmas swim for charity, and it was so cold that I wouldn’t even send O J in with her. We visited my granny, went home for a while (where O.J and I played in the snow) and had dinner in my aunt’s house. There were ten humans, three dogs and so much amazing food. She had so many choices that she even wrote out the menu for everybody. It took us three hours to eat our dinner. We opened presents and played cards in between so we could enjoy the food more. Most of us stayed the night as it was too icy to try and drive home. Even I wouldn’t attempt driving in that weather, and I’m the best driver ever!

Boxing day is usually always a day for doing absolutely nothing, and that’s exactly what I did. One of my best friends got engaged on Christmas eve so we all went out to celebrate that night. She had an engagement party two days later, which was great craic! Her family really know how to have great parties! They are the cutest couple ever, have liked each other since primary school and I’m really happy for them.

I went shopping with my sister on tuesday, just encase I was missing something in the sales. I had a cool discs voucher to spend too. I got an animal collective album and ordered ‘gift grub 10’ the limited addition version. I have the cold and really should have stayed in, so yesterday I didn’t anywhere today, apart from babysitting my nephews.

The poor dogs have only had two short walks in the last week because the weather has been so icy. O.J doesn’t seem too bored though. I have no plans for new year’s eve yet. I don’t think i’ll be doing anything too exciting.

Finally, I have to mention my Christmas presents! I got clothes, the usual sets, sweets and stuff and money from my granny. The best and most surprising present was from my parents- tickets to go and see the lion king in London on the day of my birthday. I’ve wanted to see it for years as it was, and still is my favourite Disney film. I’m so excited! Not sure what I did to deserve such a cool present, but I can hardly give it back now can I?
O.J got a stocking from Santa (with a squeaky cracker that he’s a bit afraid of) and a bandana that says “yappy Christmas” from a friend. Funnily enough it doesn’t fit him, but fits Dougal instead.

Currently reading: ‘see it my way’ by Peter White. I’m really enjoying it, as its interesting reading about his career in radio and journalism from a blind person’s perspective.

Happy Christmas!

We’ve had a crazy few days of rain, sleet, snow, thunder, lightening and now lots of ice. I just about made it to work yesterday, a couple of hours late, but couldn’t even get to the top of our road today. I just had to go back to bed. I mean what else was I supposed to do?
I’ve been out for dinner three nights in a row and going tonight with some of my friends. I still have to buy/wrap two presents, go visiting tomorrow and then down to my sister’s, so that I can see my very excited nephew on Christmas morning.

O J is being so good these days. He must know Santa’s on his way soon! Only two more sleeps til Christmas! (well about fifty more for OJ!) Even Dougal is well behaved for once. We’re going to my aunts for Christmas dinner, and the dogs are coming too encase we all decide to sleep there (she has a big house!)

I had planned two posts before Christmas which don’t seem to be working out, so just wanted to say happy Christmas now. Have a good one everyone. I hope slantey jaws is good and you all get something nice!
Jen x

This is: my aslan interview

Last night I went to see
Aslan
In Buncrana. Before the gig I interviewed Christy for my radio show. I was very nervous, but he quickly made me feel relaxed. We talked for about 25 minutes, but the time absolutely flew. Some of the stranger topics included animals and Joe from X factor! Most of the interview (apart from all his questions about guide dogs even though O J wasn’t even there) is on my music show, which you can hear
here
http://www.zshare.net/download/70070309503f2631/

The interview is about 27 mins in, if you just want to listen to that.
When he was taking me out of the room after the interview I mentioned that I’d read his book, but it had to be scanned and read by the computer’s American accent. He said that must have been terrible to listen to, and that he should record his own version sometime. That would be cool. It’s a really interesting and honest story, even if you’re not a fan of the band, you’d still be inspired by it. Go read it!

Aslan were great as usual, but the crowd was very disappointing. Suppose people have so many staff parties and things on at Christmas, and it was on a Thursday night. It’s such a big venue as well. I don’t think it put them off playing there though, and hopefully the next gig will be better attended, and a bit longer too, because they’ve so much they can play.
Christy talked to some people after and I went over to get an album signed and just to thank him again. He said when I finished recording that I could talk to him after the gig if there was anything else I needed to ask, so he told me to wait five minutes, but I didn’t see him again.
Very rock n roll of him haha! I’d say he just forgot or got distracted. I was more or less finished. I just didn’t get Stuart’s sound bite. Sorry! Anyway it was a great night, and I’m glad I have the recording to remind me of it. Hopefully If I have the chance to interview any professional musicians in the future, they’ll be as easy to talk to, and I’ll eventually be more professional myself!

Ps. Clive and gang I hope you like the Leonard Cohen song!

Questions?

I’m waiting for my carrot and lentil soup to be ready, listening to some kind of fancy piano music they’ve got on in work, and thought I’d ask for your help.

I’m recording an interview with
Aslan
next thursday for my radio show. Details aren’t finalised yet, but hopefully it will all work out ok, and I’ll not have to do it over the phone. They are playing a gig in the plaza that night, and are always great to see live.
Aslan were the first Irish band I ever liked, around the time that ‘crazy world’ was released. I shook hands with Christy Dignam once at a gig, but meeting him properly will be nice. I want to ask him some interesting questions so that he doesn’t get completely bored, while keeping it general at the same time. I have read his book ‘this is’ before, and will hopefully get a chance to reread bits of it again at the weekend.
Do you have any questions you want me to ask them?

Also, can anyone advise me on which earphones to buy? I’m willing to pay a bit more than the usual 20 quid or so for them, as I need good ones. I need something that’s comfortable even after eight hours wearing them. I need to hear the screen reader on my computer while I’m in work, and edit audio as well, so that’s a lot of listening. I don’t mind if they are in-ear ones or ones that go over the ear, as long as they stay on, look normal and block out some background noise.
I’d really appreciate it if anyone could recommend any you’ve used before, and if you have a link to them on amazon, that would be even better.
Thanks.

PS. O J wants to know what a budget is?

A busy weekend

I’ve had a busy few days and lots of fun. On Friday morning O J and I walked to town, where I had to meet someone to go to the radio station to do an interview for a documentary. I’ll talk more about that when its all put together.
I went to have dinner in my granny’s and left O J at home with Dougal. Tommy Tiernan was doing a gig in a hotel in Buncrana to raise money for the Colgan Hall in Carn (don’t know anything about the place), but I didn’t get a ticket. They went on sale the day before they were advertised. A friend was supposed to get one and it turned out a mess. anyway, after dinner I was feeling sorry for myself that I couldn’t go, so thought I’d try my luck. I went down and told them I just needed one ticket if they had any spare and they were like, yeah come on in!
Tommy was his usual crazy controversial self. I’ll say no more! He didn’t take a hand at the audience much, but if I had O J with me I’m not sure I would have gotten away with it.
A friend met him 10 minutes after I left the hotel, but I met him before so didn’t mind too much.

Yesterday I went to Dublin with two of my friends. We got stuck in Derry because of marching. We shopped in Strabain on the way and I bought a lot of clothes for great value! We had a lovely breakfast with pancakes and maple syrup like you’d get in America. Yum! The friend we were visiting works in Croke Park so we collected her there. I want to do the tour of the stadium sometime, even though I don’t have much interest in GAA. We went to Tribeca for dinner, which does the nicest chicken wings ever! We went to a pub that I can’t remember the name of, and then to a club called howl at the moon. The girls sing all the time,and they sang all the way home in the taxi. The driver was great fun and didn’t mind at all.

Nobody was hungover so we went to Dundrum to shop again today. I bought a Christmas present, because I bought enough for myself yesterday. I brought my disabled parking badge for the car with me. I don’t usually use it unless I have O J with me but thought it might be useful in Dublin. When we parked in the shopping centre and the minute we stepped out of the car, a woman came over and said, “this is a disabled parking space you have parked in you know.” The girls said that I was blind and she appologised and said she was just letting us know. I think she was a bit embarrassed haha. I can see her point. Its very annoying when people take the spaces who don’t need them, but she could have checked the front of the car to see if we had a parking badge first, before jumping to conclusions.

I have to go to a dinner dance on thursday, which is the first of the Christmas parties. I’ll be entertaining O J a bit more next weekend I promise!

I’m selling a Roland keyboard that I bought in my final year of university. Its a really good one that doesn’t get played enough. Its advertised on buyandsell.ie and will be in a local paper. It would be great to have it sold before Christmas. There’s going to be a few nights out and I want to buy a lot of music related things after Christmas so a bit of extra money would be great.

understanding humans

Hi humans and woof doggies!

Jen can’t think of anything to write about so she allowed me to steel the computer. She said I can talk about whatever I want, as long as I mention two things first:

Today is the start of Brucember. That means that
Alison Curtis
is playing a song by the boss every night on her show (monday to thursday, 10-midnight) on today fm. I think I know her. She’s got a funny accent (Jen says she’s Canadian whatever that means!) and I get to hear her on the radio in the kitchen when I’m lying beside the cooker keeping warm, and relaxing after a hard days work. I recognise a lot of the music because Jen plays it on her own music show when we go to the radio station.

I also have to tell you that the people at Irish guide dogs where I went to school are looking for people to sign up for the
Mizen to Malin cycle
in May 2010. Thank God us dogs don’t have to do it. If Jen did it i’d get a whole week off work. That would be heaven! I would miss her a lot though.

Everybody keeps talking about a few things that make me really confused. First of all, the recession. What the hell does recession mean? Everyone seems angry and worried. Why? I have food and toys and people to pet me. I don’t worry about anything.
Who or what is Jedward? Jen gets really angry when people mention it. Sometimes she uses naughty words. What did they do to her? Should I attack them if I ever see them?
Floods. What are floods? I think they are to do with the weather, but the weather here in Donegal is cold like last year and no different. Floods are really bad whatever they are.
Christmas. I remember this from last year and the years before that, but why do humans have so much to do? Shopping, buying presents, going for dinner and more dinner and parties and just so much stuff.

Jen spends a lot of time touching things, but sometimes touching things that aren’t me. Things with buttons. Things with keys. Things that talk very very fast and are impossible for my ears to understand. Most of these things make noise. If I bark and make a lot of noise she tells me to stop. This doesn’t make sense. Sometimes I can’t hear the noise because she puts these things in her ears and wires come out of her ears then. It looks funny. She does this on the bus or when we’re in work.
Sometimes she sits at the kitchen table with tea or coffee or whatever they put in those cup things that people always seem to have, and touches paper. The paper has dots or bumps on it. They all look the same to me, but Jen says she is reading. How can this be reading? How can it make any sense.

If Clive, Pearce, Toby, Freddie, Ralph or any other dog that might read this can make sense of the world of these crazy humans, please help me!

OJ