Saturday, November 26, 2011

Go with the Flow – Lessons Learned from A Flow Affair, a Documentary by Wolfgang Busch

Go with the Flow – Lessons Learned from A Flow Affair a Documentary by Wolfgang Busch

How Do I Look?  No, this is not a question, but a documentary that, a few years ago, offered me a peek into the fantastic ball community and the unique opportunity to interview the equally fantastic filmmaker and LGBT activist, Wolfgang Busch, who also directed and produced How Do I Look?.

Last month I had the chance to revisit Busch’s inspiring work when invited to attend the New York City premier screening of A Flow Affair, at Manhattan’s St. John’s Lutheran Church. The event brought together well-known artists and activists united in their efforts to keep alive the diverse forms of flow arts—flagging (or flag dancing), fanning, flouging (vouging + flagging) and poi. Among the speakers Reverend Mark E. Erson, the first openly gay pastor at St. John’s, thanked Wolfgang Busch “for having a vision;” Reverend Charles Gilmore talked about flow arts and his beliefs in “our responsibility to preserve this gay art form;” R&B singer Meli’sa Morgan mentioned her own commitment to support the flow arts community [her song, “All in the Name of Love,” is on the documentary’s soundtrack]. Also in the audience were singer/songwriter Robert Urban [his new CD is Rock Widow], young flaggers from New York City and San Francisco, individuals whose stories were part of the documentary, and, of course, A Flow Affair director and producer, Wolfgang Busch.

With A Flow Affair, Busch adds more layers to the complex sketch of LGBT community by focusing on yet another of its defining aspects—the history of flow arts in all its forms. It is, therefore, symbolic that A Flow Affair screening premiered in October. Yet, while watching the film, it’s easy to realize that this symbolism goes beyond that of LGBT history month (October), tapping into LGBT communities and reaching audiences across the country and the world (latest screening was in Brazil).

A Flow Affair offers a glimpse in the rear view mirror at a past of LGBT community, using it as a vehicle through which to learn about its future. As if to emphasize this role of catalyst between past and future, during the discussions that preceded and followed the Flow Affair screening, someone in the audience mentioned that sometimes you have to go back to the old way, in order to understand the new way. And that is right, but not always easy. A Flow Affair makes it easy, offering ways to address and bridge that “generation gap” when it comes to keeping flow arts alive.

This generation disconnect (gap) has its reasons: today’s youth identifies flag dancing with older generations; there are no large stages available for flaggers; or, how some may say, it’s human nature for people to change, to fall out of love with someone or something. Originated in the seventies especially in the circuit parties and peaking during the mid-eighties while identifying with the AIDS community, flagging represents not only an art form, but one of self expression, and has perpetually changed with time. Nowadays we find this art form being taught in workshops, performed in parades and parks by men and women alike. Even more, the art of flagging is being passed on from parents to children. Each generation, each individual has the opportunity to reshape this art form and, thus, to ensure the continuity of this form of flow art from one generation to another.

But flagging is not the only flow art available. A Flow Affair captures a full image of the history of all flow arts—including flagging, fanning (which is an ancient art form with Asian origins) and poi (which mostly identify with San Francisco flow arts community).

A young flagger who traveled all the way from San Francisco to attend A Flow Affair premier screening offers flow arts a new stage—the social networks stage.  Because flagging has changed his entire life, he encourages others to give it a try. He also adds, “It’s human nature to seek God’s love and that’s what flagging offers.”

It is also symbolic that A Flow Affair premiered in a place of worship, intersecting the element of spiritual healing with that of physical healing—especially associated with the AIDS epidemic.  Embarking its audience on a journey into the history of each of flow art forms, A Flow Affair offers a complex, in-depth lesson in LGBT culture and history; therefore, A Flow Affair doesn’t only plant a seed for the flow art form, but a flow community seed, allowing the continuity of this kind of artistic expression.

A Flow Affair is yet another testimony that, over the years, Wolfgang Busch has become not only a teacher of LGBT culture and history, but also a historian himself, his films documenting, for posterity, an important part of our history. Put them together, Busch’s films, and they help sketch out a complex, rich and forever evolving image of the LGBT community.

Author's NOTE: Flow arts enable self-expression by engaging all our senses:

TOUCH: the soft, almost fluid material of the flag wraps around the body, kisses the skin; it reveals its beauty warmed up by the sunrise light; flagging ignites the journey within, the reconnection with one's self; flag dancers get lost in the moment, while the world around them disappears, leaving room for self-expression
SIGHT: the bright colors of the fans (fans, sometimes considered extensions of one's hands and arms) wrap the body, as in angelic wings; thus they create yet another path to self-expression, allowing dancers to experience the power of living in the moment, which, in turn, facilitates the connection between one and one's self
HEARING:  the flick of the fan underlines the moment of bliss while, in the same time, makes it disappear, as if to remind us that we shouldn't get stuck in a moment, even a blissful one, rather to go with the flow--with the artistic flow, that is--and continue to use flow arts (for example) to create a complex blend of artistic flow, that, in turn, would ultimately guide us on the path of self-expression and self-rediscovery.
TASTE & SMELL: are also enhanced by flow arts and through the journey within the soul they offer, one that leads to self-expression and self-discovery.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thirty Years of AIDS: The AIDS Alphabet--G is for Ganciclovir

Thirty Years of AIDS: The AIDS Alphabet--G is for Ganciclovir

Continuing the AIDS alphabet, after quite a break, we find ourselves at the letter G, for ganciclovir.

Ganciclovir: This is one of the earliest and first medications used for cytomegalovirus, CMV, treatment. This antiviral drug helps to treat or prevent infections caused by CMV by keeping the virus from multiplying. Ganciclovir comes in three forms: intravenous, intraocular insert, and capsules. The capsule form is used for maintenance and prevention therapy only.

I've talked to individuals who had to take ganciclovir to keep the CMV in check. I was impressed by the story of Kurt Weston, an award-winning photographer who lost most of his eye-sight to CMV. Here's how he describes the experience in an excerpt from JOURNEYS THROUGH DARKNESS

Kurt Weston’s vision loss didn’t happen overnight. The photographer experienced the first symptoms of CMV retinitis in 1993, while he was still working at Pivot Point. When preparing the room for a photo shoot, he would notice flashing spots on his backdrops or he would see shreds of cotton and start blinking, trying unsuccessfully to get rid of them. Only later he realized that those shreds of cotton floating in his view were floaters and one of the first signs of cytomegalovirus attacking his eyes.
Although Kurt always kept his doctor’s appointments and went for his regular checkups, his eye specialist kept misdiagnosing him. A few years later, in California, his new doctor determined that the virus had been doing extensive damage to his patient’s eyes. Parts of Kurt’s retina had been infected and then healed, while other scars on his retina were more recent, together causing permanent damage to his sight.
The virus also spread to Kurt’s esophagus. He started experiencing severe heartburn, so he went to see his doctor. An endoscopy showed that CMV had been making a huge hole in Kurt’s esophagus, causing serious damage… enough to make the doctor wonder how his patient could still manage to walk around.
Kurt’s first treatment for CMV retinitis involved a medication called ganciclovir. Twice a day, every day, a pump the size of a small tape recorder would administer the necessary dose of intravenous ganciclovir through a PICC line directly into Kurt’s vein.
The actual process of inserting the line in Kurt’s arm was extremely difficult and painful using a large needle that Kurt didn’t think would fit into his vein. A nurse had to insert a yard worth of intravenous tubing in his arm, and then guide it up his vein, all the way near his heart. An x-ray machine helped her monitor the entire process and the location of the intravenous tubing so that she could make sure that the line reached the large vein, where it needed to be for maximum infusion of the medication. 

Journeys Through Darkness: A Biography of AIDS
But Kurt Weston had to experience having a PICC line inserted in his arm before starting the ganciclovir treatment. Here's a short excerpt from JOURNEYS, describing Weston's experience with ozone therapy at a Nevada clinic:

The medical personnel at the Nevada clinic used the PICC line to administer the ozone. What followed was a hellish ten-day therapy that Kurt was determined to survive. “You get high fevers and your teeth are clutching,” the photographer recalls. “You start shaking [until you] feel like every muscle in your body starts knotting up, like getting into convulsions.”
Those who worked at the clinic prepared heated blankets to wrap around the patients to keep them from shaking. After completing the daily ozone sessions at the clinic, patients were taking ozone containers with them to the hotel where they were staying during the ten-day treatment. While in the hotel room, they had to pump the gas into their rectums.
During therapy, Kurt got hallucinating fevers of a hundred and four degrees. He became sick, enough to worry his father, who tried to convince him to stop the treatment altogether and go back home to Chicago. But Kurt refused to give up and insisted on finishing his therapy. And when he did, he saw his T cell counts soaring.
This gave the photographer some hope. He even came up with the idea of purchasing a small ozone generator and continuing his treatment at home. The only problem was that he didn’t have a PICC line in his arm anymore. The doctor at the Nevada clinic had taken out the tubing from his arm once he was done with his ozone therapy. The only other way he could self-administer ozone was to self-inject with the gas… but that was something he did not believe he was able to do.
Yet, the ozone home therapy opportunity was far from vanished. During the following years, between 1994 and 1996, the photographer was to go through some twenty-five PICC lines that medical professionals had to insert in and take out of his arms to administer intravenous ganciclovir medication for his CMV retinitis. Later on, he used those PICC lines to self-administer his ozone, using a home ozone generator that he ended up purchasing after all.

Alina Oswald

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cold Season Remedy: Sylt Blues and Beaches

I originally called this image "Island Green." The island is Germany's Sylt. With a funny name and 90 degree turned T-like shape, Sylt is located at the border between Germany and Denmark. The northern "exposure" offers the island a hint of white nights at the beginning of June (white nights, like in extremely long days and hints of weak daylight around midnight).

Sylt is known as a northern mecca, where rich people vacation. Sylt is a paradise for those who want to escape the craziness of everyday life and immerse themselves in nature. But Sylt, with its wrap-around beaches and freezing temps (especially water temps), is also known for its gourmet food, expensive boutique shops and bike (motorcycle) parades.

Mostly, though, the island of Sylt is known for its blues... As the story goes, "the blues" settle in four days after arriving on the island. I've been through that experience myself. I'm not sure how to explain it, though. It is a kind of depression that takes over not only your soul, but your body. You feel sick inside out and find it hard to breath. The more you reach out for air, the more suffocated you get, surrounded by all the chilling loneliness, by the icy water drops the North Sea breeze throw in your face. The chill penetrates your skin, cut deep into your flesh and soul. All you can do is curve in a human question mark, trying to find refuge. Instead, you find a darker shade of blues...

For some, though, Sylt is much more than its blues and beaches. Sylt is about getting lost in its nature, strolling on its endless beaches, allowing the breeze to brush your hair and kiss your face.

Sylt is an interesting place to pay a short visit. For more about the German island of Sylt, check out my travel CNN iReport. May your dreams of summer see you through the bitter winter days.

As always, thanks for visiting,
Alina Oswald

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Redefining the “Real” in Real Estate: A Conversation with NYC Metro RE Agent Michael Jeavons

Redefining the “Real” in Real Estate: NYC Metro RE Agent Michael Jeavons Shows Clients the Dynamic, Exciting (and, Yes, Sexy) Side of Real Estate, While Helping Them Find the Perfect Home

The term “unconventional” excites our imagination and our inquiring spirit. It makes us wonder, sometimes question, by offering a new perspective to all aspects of our lives, including professional lives. Therefore, for this blog post I interviewed a fascinating business professional who’s not afraid using this attribute to redefine the profession he’s so passionate about. I’m talking about real estate agent Michael Jeavons. His story sketches out a fresh new profile of the business of real estate, one that house seekers can better understand.  

RE Agent Michael Jeavons
“Real estate is dynamic, sexy [and] exciting,” RE agent Michael Jeavons comments, talking about the new face of real estate. To the three characteristics that also describe Jeavons I would add “charming.” This unique blend of qualities makes him the real estate agent of choice for anybody looking to buy, sell or rent a place.  His fascination with real estate is contagious, turning his clients’ (usually cumbersome) process of finding a place, an exciting process.

Michael Jeavons began his career in hospitality management because he enjoyed helping people. He then went on to work for a national real estate developer marketing large high-rise projects. Presently, he focuses on metro NY and NJ luxury residential real estate.

“It fascinates me,” Jeavons confesses talking about his passion for real estate, “and I like [sharing this] fascination with [my] clients.” At the same time, as agent and client work through the process together, they also develop a deeper relationship, one based on trust. This bond helps both agent and client to find that home (apartment or house) perfect for that client. This connection is real and it is possible for several reasons: Jeavons’ passion for, commitment to and attention to details that come through during the very first client/agent meeting; Jeavons’ ability to assure his client the guidance needed when navigating the maze called real estate.   

Indeed, for the layperson the process of shopping for a home can be an overwhelming, sometimes outright intimidating. Consulting a real estate agent for a home search brings access to that agent’s experience, knowledge, and expertise.

But what makes a good agent, one worth trusting with your home?

“Experience and knowledge of the different areas are very important when choosing a real estate agent,” Jeavons explains.  He goes on to explain what makes a great agent. “Great agents teach their clients. They are patient. They give guidance, yet allow their clients to learn for themselves as the process evolves. Above all, great agents have the highest level of integrity.”

A great real estate agent not only knows the “flavor” of different neighborhoods, but can also read the clients’ unspoken language and hear beyond their words in order to ascertain exactly their particular desires and needs in a new home. After all, Jeavons comments, “time is very valuable. No client wants to have his or her time wasted viewing properties [that] do not meet their needs.”

So, what do home-shoppers want?

Clients are in search of the best value for their special needs, no matter if they’re seeking a place in a metro area or elsewhere.  “Everything sells and rents,” Jeavons explains. “There is truly a place for every taste and price range. All the more reasons to work with a qualified real estate professional who can help direct search efforts.”

Finding a place can become an even more difficult task in today’s economic climate, especially during the winter season.  Yet, it does not intimidate Jeavons, who sees it as a challenge and yet another opportunity to look at the bright side of the real estate business.

Yes, the economic climate has changed, but those interested to buy can make the best of it. “Sellers and buyers should expect to see little change in the current sale price of units,” Jeavons explains. “Prices have stabilized in the metro NY/NJ markets. Historically, it is one of the best times to buy with prices and interest rates lower than they have been in years. On the other hand, landlords and tenants should expect a significant increase in monthly rents, as demand for rental units increases.”

Usually, the greatest selection of inventory comes out in the spring. In general, buyers purchase property in the warmer seasons (spring, summer, and fall). Yet, buying a home in winter has its advantages. “Given the current buyer oriented market, mostly any time of the year is a great time to buy,” Jeavons advises. “If you are willing to purchase or move during the winter months, there is generally an opportunity for greater negotiation. [That is because] units are more difficult to move during the winter, [thus] making it a great opportunity for buyers.”

So, what would sellers need to do to prepare their homes for potential buyers?

“Make it clean, neat, and fresh!” Jeavons advises. Remove all excess personal items. It usually makes a small urban space seem larger and more comfortable. Also, thoroughly clean and, if needed, repaint the space. Perform any deferred maintenance—for example, repair leaking faucets, replace broken windows, fix doors. “Buyers respond most positively to clean, bright, neat and well-maintained spaces,” Jeavons comments, “they sometimes lack the vision to see beyond minor imperfections, such as paint, cleaning and minor repairs.”

Another way to improve the quality and increase the value of a property is to invest in that property, but only in times that will add value and provide a return, Jeavons cautions. He explains that, traditionally, areas that sellers usually renovate include kitchens and baths, and replace general appliances. But, during the renovation process, sellers should “keep control of expenses,” Jeavons urges, “realize that extra expenses associated with personal preferences may not transfer into direct returns upon selling.”

Jeavons is a real estate agent, and also a shopper. This sets him apart from other agents because he understands what his clients go through when trying to find their perfect homes. This, in turns, helps them guide his clients through that real estate maze mentioned at the beginning of this post. Being a buyer himself, he also loves seeing property with his clients. “It is the whole reason I work in real estate,” Jeavons explains.

Real estate is about touch-and-feel. Therefore, Jeavons encourages all perspective buyers to go out and see as much inventory as possible. And then to find an agent who’s willing to do the same with them. “Because the value of real estate is largely subjective and based on what a buyer is willing to pay,” Jeavons explains, “the more property [clients] see, the more [they] understand what they’re seeking in a property purchase, how much they’re willing to pay and what a property is really worth. I enjoy seeing each new property as much as my clients do. It helps me grow my perspective, as well as that of my client.”

From Michael Jeavons, a real estate professional:

On real estate: “Real estate is about touch and feel. Get out and see as much inventory as possible, and find an agent who is willing to do the same.”

On clients: “There is no such thing as a best/worst client. Each client is an individual with special needs and desires. Finding a home is a very special process. Each search is unique and, in time, will yield special results with the perfect home.”

On preparing a place for sale: “Make it clean, neat and fresh! De-cluttering will make a smaller urban space seem larger and more comfortable. Buyers sometimes lack vision to see beyond minor imperfections, such as paint, cleaning and minor repairs.”

More on preparing a place for sale: “Keep control of expenses. Just because you value a $10K Viking range does not mean a potential buyer will.”

On best time to purchase real estate: “Given the current buyer oriented market, mostly any time of the year is a great time to buy. Winter months [offer] an opportunity for greater negotiation, [because] units are more difficult to move during the winter, making it a great opportunity for buyers.”

On real estate forecast for owners and renters: “Sellers/buyers should expect little change in the current sale price of units. Prices have stabilized in the metro NY/NJ markets. Historically, it is one of the best times to buy with prices and interest rates lower than they’ve been in years. [On the other hand,] landlords/tenants should expect a significant increase in monthly rents, as demand for rental units increases.

For more real estate tips please contact Michael Jeavons at 551-226-9804.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

30 Years of AIDS: The AIDS Alphabet - F is for Foscarnet

In the AIDS alphabet, F is for Fuzeon and also Foscarnet, an antiviral medication that prevents CMV (cytomegalovirus) multiplication. Foscarnet can be administered intravenously in a health care facility or at home.

Foscarnet, Fuzeon and other medications give hope and keep patients not one, but several steps ahead of the disease, yet it takes a warrior to deal with all the complex aspects (medical and otherwise) of living with HIV/AIDS. Before the advent of HAART (Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapies) in the mid-nineties, CMV was the number one cause of visual loss in AIDS patients. Total or partial visual loss takes another meaning for those for those who make their living painting with light (photographing). They have to become warriors at war with their AIDS and related disabilities and start their Journeys Through Darkness to find their way and survive a world of darkness. Here's an example from Kurt Weston's (an AIDS warrior and award-winning, visually-impaired visual artist) Journey Through Darkness :

Confusion comes easy. So does self-destruction and self-doubt, especially in a situation like Kurt’s was. It is often easy to get entangled in the debilitating game of questioning oneself and of judging one’s actions. It is often difficult to stay clear of the multitude of “what ifs,” “only ifs” and second-guesses threatening to redefine one’s past. There were times when Kurt’s own AIDS, and later on his vision loss, had threatened to push him further into this labyrinth of confusion, at times almost to a point of no return. Therefore, his secret for surviving had always been to never allow failures from the past to govern his life, to alter his future and keep him from making the best of his situation. He wasn’t going to change that kind of guidance even in the face of his permanent vision loss. Therefore, the photographer pleaded with his doctors until he got the necessary paperwork to enroll in classes offered by the Lower Vision Department at the Braille Institute.
It was vital for him to start learning how to survive and how to “see” again in his new world, in order to move forward with his life and his dreams. Kurt had to start by learning how to use a cane, work with adaptive technology and read Braille. And he didn’t have to do it all alone, because he had the support of his new partner.
    Kurt had met Va Hong after moving to Orange County, while attending a Positive Friends meeting at one of the local AIDS support organizations. Va was a “wonderful Vietnamese man” whom Kurt found “very cute.” The two started talking and found out they had quite a few common interests. It didn’t take them long to start dating and afterwards to begin a serious relationship.
In time, as Kurt started losing his sight, Va became not only his partner but also his guide. Va ended up taking Kurt to his doctor’s appointments, which were spread all over the city, and everywhere else the photographer needed to go. Va also introduced Kurt to the Asian Pacific Crossroads group, a local organization serving Asian Americans living with HIV/AIDS. There, Kurt got to meet many people who knew Va and form meaningful relationships. Va was the one to tell Kurt about the Braille Institute and encourage him to attend classes. 
While the Braille Institute was providing useful information through hands on activities and courses, it also required students to live on the campus. And while Kurt didn’t mind doing that, he really didn’t enjoy his staying there either. To him, the Braille Institute looked more like a senior center. Most of the patients were in their seventies and eighties and most of them had lost their sight to age, to macular degeneration. To Kurt it seemed that they were only there to kill time, while he needed a fast and immediate immersion in studies that would allow him to continue his life despite his visual disability.
Besides, Kurt had different kinds of problems. He was the only one to have lost his sight to CMV. He was the only one who had AIDS. Yet, upon his acceptance, the Braille Institute officials instructed him not to mention his disease or the real cause of his blindness to anybody. “We just think it would be better if you don’t tell anybody about your situation, because, you know, people don’t understand,” they told him.
The advice reminded him of his doctor’s words years earlier, in Chicago, when he was working for Pivot Point and was recently diagnosed with AIDS. The officials at the Braille Institute listed Kurt’s reason for being there as cystoid macular edema, which is a swelling of the macula, and which Kurt had as a result of the side effects to his medication that had damaged his macula, thus his ability to see things in focus with his right eye.
During his short stay at the Braille Institute, Kurt couldn’t really make any friends, so he tried to stay focused on his studies and relearn, as fast as he could, how to get around in his new world. He attended all the classes that were required of him, studied hard and learned quickly.
One of these classes was a beginners typing course. The instructor suggested that it would be a good course for Kurt who, at the time, was not computer savvy. So the instructor set Kurt at the keyboard and started him on his typing. Moments later, the photographer found himself struggling to stay focused on what he needed to do. He tried his best to go through the course smoothly, but found it terribly boring. Yet, he kept typing the same letter over and over again before moving to the next letter and repeating the process. No matter how much he would try, Kurt was slowly getting bored out of his mind. So he started eavesdropping on conversations going on around him, which seemed to be much more interesting than typing letters ad nauseam.
That’s how he decided that one particular conversation was, indeed, worth his undivided attention. Kurt overheard one of the seniors in the class talking to the instructor about his Department of Rehabilitation counselor, how wonderful she was and what wonderful things he had learnt there. From what he heard, Kurt realized that what the rehab program had to offer was just the perfect kind of low vision classes he needed, and he memorized the counselor’s name and phone number, and made a quick mental note to contact her as soon as he could.
Later that day, right after he was done with his classes, Kurt made an appointment with the counselor. Not long afterwards she stopped by his place and explained everything to him about the program and all the benefits it had to offer. She also told Kurt about the Foundation for Junior Blind, describing it as offering similar courses as the Braille Institute, but at a more intensive pace.
To attend courses at the Foundation for Junior Blind, Kurt would also have to live on campus, in Los Angeles, during the week and then return home to Orange County for the weekend. And knowing that he eventually had to learn how to negotiate and live his life as a visually impaired person, Kurt accepted the challenge and started the long application process and the endless waiting period for an opening.
During the few months Kurt had to wait to actually start his studies at the Foundation for Junior the Blind, his partner, Va, started to get really sick. Va was hospitalized with AIDS-related lymphoma and, because the pain was becoming more than he could possibly handle, doctors had to put him on morphine. It took Va a couple of weeks to die. He passed away on January 8th, 1998. And throughout the entire ordeal, Kurt has remained by his bedside.
Literally two days after Va’s death, the photographer received a phone call from the Department of Rehabilitation. They had good news. There was indeed an opening available at the Foundation for Junior Blind and they were waiting for him in Los Angeles to start his courses immediately.
But no matter how promising the opportunity, at the time Kurt found it impossible to make himself attend school. He wasn’t ready just yet, not while he was still mourning the loss of his partner. Va’s death had been slow and horrible, and Kurt had had to witness his lover’s suffering and to live through all the pain and loss that came with Va’s passing. The experience had left Kurt numb and overwhelmed by a sorrow he didn’t know how to escape. So, while risking what could have very possibly been his only chance to relearn how to “see” again and get acquainted in his new world, Kurt politely declined the offer and was ready to give up his slot.
Fortunately, the Institute for Junior Blind rep on the phone with Kurt wasn’t as eager to let him give up. While there was no telling when the next opening was available, she recognized that Kurt’s situation was indeed special and offered to hold the slot for him for another two weeks, while making him promise he would think about it and call her back.
Reserving the spot was a difficult task in itself, especially when so many people were waiting in line to enroll in the classes and Kurt was very much aware of the favor she was doing him. So he did think about the journeys to come in his life. He wouldn’t have been able to learn about the Institute for Junior Blind if he hadn’t gone to the Braille Institute in the first place. And he had been able to do that because of Va’s encouraging him to move on with his life. So, two weeks later, Kurt called back the institute in Los Angeles and told them he was ready to start his studies.