Category Archives: cats

September’s Audio Books, etc

Where did September go? I’m really not sure what I did all last month. Though I suppose it’s evident I did a lot of reading. I also focused on recovering from the awful depression of August. Which, by the way depression and anxiety? I feel you lurking there, just below the surface, ready to drag me back under. I know you’re still hungry. I’m not going to let you have me.

I’m preparing for NaNoWriMo in November, writing bits of the book in my head since nothing can be written with my keyboard until November 1. I cannot wait to write the opening scene, especially since last night I came up with another angle that’s going to give my female protag the problem I’ve been searching for. Can’t wait to start! Ancient Egypt research has been done, thanks Amanda for all the links you’ve stumbled upon. Oh that reminds me, I need to get with my friends daughter to discuss some terms for that one thing…

In brand new and very exciting news, another trip to Florida is now in the works for the beginning of March. The only thing set in stone is the, drum roll please, JOSH GROBAN CONCERT I’LL BE ATTENDING! Ahem, ok I’m done screaming now. The tickets were purchased and I was given the express instructions to be in Clearwater on March 1. I’ll also be going to Rays spring training in port Charlotte, and seeing my florida friends so woo hoo!

I have the most amazing people in my life, that’s all I gotta say.

Happy birthday, Gamma! I miss you. 🙁

*Ten full books this month*

78. “Crux” (Nexus book 2) by Ramez Naam – narrated by Mikael Naramore

Finished September 30

the first book in this trilogy is a few headings down in this post. I read another book between books one and two since they have different narrators and Luke Daniels narrated the first book and he’s just awesome. Naramore was ok but he’s no Luke Daniels and I have to wonder if Daniels passed on doing this book on purpose. What a let down after the first one. I think “Crux” needed another revision or two. I felt like the information was being forced on me rather than shown to me. It ended up being terribly confusing since there were several parallel story arcs that didn’t mesh together. There seemed to be endless passages where characters were thinking. Thinking thinking thinking. So and so did this to me, I’m gonna do this, I really shouldn’t do that, what if this happened. The book just needed to be tightened up and it would have been fine, instead, those screws loose killed the pacing and bored me to tears. I kept thinking about the new White Trash Zombie book out on the sixth and how I was going to reread book four to prepare.

Ricardo says book three is good and full of action, so I’ll give it a try, but I’m glad for the break with my zombies.

77. “Cold Cold Heart” by Tami Hoag – narrated by Julia Whelan

finished September 27

I’ve taken to buying any book narrated by Julia Wehlan, or as Ricardo and I call her, our Gone Girl girl.

‘Heart’ is a book I found while doing such a search and wow. What a great freaking book. Dana Nolan was kidnapped by a serial killer. The book opens with her escape and agonizing recovery. Does one ever really recover from something like that, though? She’s lost not only her ability to think clearly and speak easily, she’s lost her identity as a reporter. Instead of doing the reporting, she’s now reported on.

In order to find a new purpose in life after she returns to her mother and stepfather’s home in the small town where she was raised, she decides to brush off her old investigative skills and look into the disappearance of her best friend from high school. If only she could remember to turn off the water faucet.

What follows is a riveting mystery with a deeply flawed protagonist struggling to make sense of the world post brain injury. though our situations are nothing alike, boy did I relate to Dana Nolan and her “before Dana” and “after Dana”, the way her relationships changed when she became “after Dana”, the way she struggled to figure out who she was after the “accident”. Oh, and there was a great mystery too, and a cute cat who looks like my Anastasia.

I love Julia Whelan so much I found her on Twitter: @justjuliawhelan. She’s been added to my list of favorite narrators. Great company with Scott Brick and Ray Porter, and so far, she hasn’t done a bad book that I’ve found.

@TamiHoag is also on Twitter but she’s not very active. She has an interesting author’s note at the end of the book, in which she describes her own traumatic brain injury and gives resources for others. She also tells the story of people who inspired another character in the novel, a war vet with his own traumatic brain injury.

76. “Nexus” (Nexus book 1) by Ramez Naam – narrated by Luke Daniels

finished September 23

Ricardo recommended this one. It took me a few hours to really get into it but once it grabbed me, it wouldn’t let go. Imagine a drug that lets you communicate with your own mind as if it were a computer. You could write code in your brain to make things happen, all with thoughts. You can even install apps. Want to be able to win a fight? There’s a Bruce Lee app for that. Now imagine if you could link minds with others on the drug and communicate by just thinking. At first, I was like ok that’s cool, but then it got scary. A woman is held captive, her mind under the control of those who have her, and she’s completely paralyzed. A hacker could break into your mind and make you do things. Totally shudder making. This is the first in a trilogy and it’s narrated by Luke Daniels, who I like. Definitely a good read. I look forward to book two.

Twitter: @ramez

75. “Darken the Stars” (Kricket series book 3)

Finished September 19

This is the last book in the trilogy, which I read all of this month. Book two is below this and book one a few headings below that.

I was bummed when this book ended, dangling bits and all. This trilogy was the perfect escape and I’ll miss Kricket’s sarcasm read with Kate rudd’s voice. I checked out the reviews on Audible last night and my were readers upset with the ending. I thought it stayed true to character and was a good lesson that not everything is a happy ending. I’m going to miss that world, that’s for sure.

Notes I took while reading*

I don’t want to like Kyon but his character is so awesome for humor. Was just eating mini wheats when he made me laugh so hard I slapped my leg and almost choked on cereal.

I did a search to find the spelling for Kyon’s name and I am so grateful I can read books just to enjoy them, not feel the need to dissect every character and the tropes they fall into. My goodness. This series is fun for book’s sake. You know, fun? That thing that’s well, fun?

Had to stop my vacuuming to jot this thought down. The teen reviewers of these books love them. Since the books are classified YA, the teen reviews are all that matter to me. On the adults writing about the violence and sex in the books? Well, adults enjoy violence and sex in their entertainment and teens are, wait for it, YOUNG ADULTS.

74. “Sea of Stars” (Kricket #2)

Finished September 16

*Notes I took while reading*

She says something like, I open my eyes, trying to get my wits about me, I can’t keep them open. She can’t keep her wits open. She’s feigning delirium, telling the enemy to be sure and follow the white rabbit, and then, you killed Kenny…you bastard. The aliens are dumbfounded. I laughed out loud despite the migraine.

*End notes*

73. “Lone Wolf” by Jodi Picoult – narrated by Natalia Payne,Louis Changchien,CelesteCiulla, Nick Cordero, Angela Goethals, Mark Zeisler and Andy Paris

finished September 15

This was yet another daily deal I picked up at some point since I generally enjoy Jodi Picoult books. they are always about regular people and family being shoved into a supremely awkward situation, testing the bonds of love within a family. I don’t know why these books draw me in. Maybe because there’s always siblings, and I’ve always wanted siblings.

“Lone Wolf” was interesting because the supremely awkward situation was the father in a coma, but he’s not just any father, he’s a conservationist who went into the wilds of Canada to insert himself into a wolf pack for study. He literally gets the pack to accept him as a wolf. I thought this rather unlikely until Ricardo found an article for me about a guy in real life who did just that. I should have saved the link but I’m sure, if you’re interested, some googling would find it. I should have known this actually happened since Picoult writes books ripped from the headlines. She’s got one good eye for spotting true events that will make compelling fiction. She also added a second ripped from the headlines instance of, should life support be continued on this patient?

You know, I wonder if she wrote the book after the true wolf guy. I meant to check on those dates but now the total curiosity has passed and since this is my blog and not, like, true journalism, I don’t feel like it. So there. *stomps foot*

I always enjoy how each chapter is told from the point of view of one character, which means the audio books introduce several narrators. The books are always excellent entertainment.

I could have done without the epilogue though. Cheeseball!

72. “Before He Finds Her” by Michael Kardos – narrated by Julia Whelan

Finished September 12

Audible, Have I told you lately how much I love you for the daily deals? I’ve had to stop buying them over the last few months since summer electric bills don’t allow for extras, but daily deals have added so many books to my library that I always have something to read. I remember when I first became a digital audio book listener, it was hard to afford them through iTunes. then I became an Audible subscriber and I’d have to stretch my reading between credits. These daily deals have stocked up my book collection so that I never have to wonder where my next listen is coming from and I have read books I never would have known about otherwise. The last few books on this list were all daily deals. I got this one because Julia Whelan narrated it and she has quickly become a narrator I’m guaranteed to buy, like Scott Brick or Ray Porter.

This mystery was fantastic. I didn’t want to stop listening, and I didn’t want it to end when everything was being resolved. Man but this book was gooooood. The main character was annoying at times but what pregnant seventeen year-old raised in witness protection who lives on Nancy Drew books wouldn’t be annoying when she decides to go into the world and find her father since law enforcement can’t seem to and she’s sick of hiding?

I hope you don’t get motion sickness because the twists and turns in this book will leave you puking on the side of the highway. So freaking good. Julia Whelan, will you marry me? I love your voice.

71. “Under Different Stars” (Kricket, book 1) by Amy A.. Bartol – narrated by Kate Rudd

Finished September 10

Total soap opera teen romance fluff set in a sci-fi world, terribly written with dangling bits everywhere, but I enjoyed it despite all that. It was highly distracting and a lovely escape from reality. this is not a serious book that’s going to dazzle the reader with beautiful prose. Instead, it’s full of tropes. Girl all the guys are crazy about but she’s oblvious, total meat head, overbearing men etc etc etc. the girl is nice and tall on earth but on this other planet she’s tiny and adorable. Awww. Total eye roller I didn’t want to end. Lucky for me there are more books in the series. Honestly though, I’m surprised it won UtopYA awards (I wonder what those are) for best book of the year and sci-fi. On what planet? Maybe Ethar. Audible got me on this one. Hook me with the daily deal so I get addicted to the series. Well played, Audible, Well played.

Twitter: @Amy_A_Bartol

70.“The Magician’s Lie: A Novel by Greer Macallister – narrated by Julia Whelan and Nick Podehl

Finished September 8

Oh man this book was so freaking good I pretty much listened non-stop. I am on a roll with good books right now. This was a daily deal I picked up since Julia Whelan narrated it. She did “Gone Girl” and she’s just plain good.

‘Magician’s’ did something I contemplated doing in my own novel, writing one character’s POV in the first person, and the other MC in the third. In my novel, I wanted to use first person to put emphasis on my female protagonist but I decided it wouldn’t work. In ‘Magician’s’ however, it totally works. Whelan narrates the character of the magician, written in first person, telling her story to the police officer who apprehends her for the murder of her husband. The chapters alternate between her and the officer, written in the third person, conducting the interview. Podehl reads those chapters. He’s familiar but I’m not sure what other books I know him from. He’s also good. I thought the book was extremely well done and the story the magician tells is absolutely captivating. the title of the novel tells the reader there’s a lie, so the narrative of the magician is completely unreliable which makes for a very uncomfortable reading experience. This book freaking rocked. I wish the author was on Twitter. If she is, I can’t find her. Her? the name makes it hard to know, but I feel like a woman wrote the book. Yep, she’s a woman. I looked her up and found this interview, in which she mentions nursing her child. I can’t wait to read more from her!

69. “A Curious Tale of the In-Between” by Lauren DeStefano – narrated by Brittany Pressley

finished September 6

This book was awesome! I had been looking forward to it for so long since I follow Lauren DeStefano on Twitter and love her but had yet to read any of her books. She has really engaged with me over writing and she’s just plain hilarious so I’m so glad I liked this book. I was a little worried since the last book involving ghosts that I had been looking forward to was a serious disappointment.

Not this book! Eleven year-old Pram Bellamy can talk to ghosts. She lives with her two aunts in an old colonial house turned nursing home. She knows she’s an orphan, that her mother died in childbirth and her father is absent but she doesn’t quite understand why her aunts are so protective of her, schooling her at home. Her only friend is a ghost named Felix. When social services insists she attend school, she meets Clarence, a boy who’s mother is also dead. The two set out to uncover secrets. What follows, to me, is more a terrifying tale than a curious one. It reminded me of the old Goosebumps stories I read as a kid. It was so good I clapped when it ended. I only wish it had been longer. It was so good!

Twitter: @LaurenDeStefano

68. “Dies the Fire: A Novel of the Change” by S. M. Stirling – narrated by Todd McLaren

finished September 4

This book was so fun in the beginning. It’s a post-apocalyptic tale which I love. something happens to electricity and even compustian. What is it? No one knows. Planes fall from the sky, technology is dead, guns don’t work. So who survives? Wiccans and SCA members since those two groups of people already knew how to live off the land. It took me right back to my teens and early twenties, it did. I was a Wiccan and briefly an SCA member. In case you’re wondering, the SCA is a group that gets together and holds old renaissance festival type things.

So those people who respect the earth and can fight with swords are the ones to survive. It’s plausible to me. The book began to lose me the farther into it I got with the two main characters and their constant inner dialogue. I can’t explain why it got so annoying. then the story seemed to unravel near the end, like the author just wanted to move on to working on the next book or something. About the last quarter of the book suddenly got confusing, with no explanation of exactly how and why something was happening. It felt like the author was figuring out the story as he wrote it and didn’t quite tighten it up in revision. It’s becoming harder to just read now that I’m also a writer, that’s for sure. It’s an entertaining read if you’re able to suspend your disbelief. An attack on a strong hold with hang gliders? Really? In the dark? By people who had only a few days training with them? Alrighty then. Oh, or what about the fourteen year-old who teaches herself sign language out of a book in just a few months after she discovers there’s a deaf girl in the Wiccan camp? Uh huh. Oh well, it was the perfect book to follow Fitz and the Fool and I wasn’t yet ready to return to reality.

67. “The boys of Summer” by roger Kahn – narrated by Phil Gigante

finished September 2

This is the book I read for the book club I’ve mentioned in the last couple posts I think. The book club consists of Rays fans reading books about baseball. I could not get invested in this book. the writing didn’t grab me. The first part of the book is basically Kahn’s own biography and I was reading the book for baseball. The second part was Kahn visiting the old Dodger players he had written about in the fifties. parts of the book would be really interesting and then I’d find myself bored again. Discussing the book was interesting, reading the comments the people in the club wrote. since I couldn’t just leaf through the book for names, I was at a loss, not remembering which name went with which story.

the baseball history was interesting, especially Jackie robinson of course. The book just didn’t hold my attention. I have to wonder if the depression I was slipping into didn’t play a part.

I’ve always liked Phil gigante. He’s a great narrator, doing accents well, very easy to listen to.

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2015 Monthly Audio Book Lists, Audio books, baseball, birthday, cats, fellowship, Gamma, gratitude, mental health, music, twitter me this, writing

My First Submitted Fiction – What A Ride

I need to just free write a post while my body calms down. I just submitted my final draft of ‘That Meddling Dog’ for the YA anthology. Now I wait. Will it be chosen? Will I get my first real rejection? What happens next?

I began work on the story on May 30 and received the final draft from my volunteer copy editor yesterday. the writing and revising was awesome, ending up five hundred words over the limit and getting it down to the six thousand, sending new revisions off to my friends and getting their feedback and talking about things that happened and how the story affected each reader differently and change this word for that and get rid of that story line all together because there’s no room for it and I wasn’t ready to introduce that character anyway but oh I still need to reference him ok let me just change his name.

All the creative stuff was awesome, naturally, then it was coming down to the wire, the story pretty much done, the surface so shiny from all the polishing that I could see my reflection and all that was left was formatting. the visual part.

I’ve known I have a trigger happy thumb. I’m sure it’s evident in this post since I’m not being careful at all, just getting thoughts down. I enter way too many spaces. There’s no way with Voiceover and my word processing program, Pages, to easily tighten up spacing issues. So I went character by character of a six thousand word document, deleting spaces.

Wanna hear a sample of that process?

After I got done deleting extra spaces, I went through and added all my paragraph indents. I do all my first drafts in a basic app called Text Edit, kinda like Notepad for Windows, since it’s the easiest for me to use with voiceover. When I’m writing my first drafts of a fiction story, I never remember to tab for paragraphs and dialogue and I’m not sure that would copy over to Pages anyway.

So I went through and added my tabs and then I counted the new lines of a blank document. fifty lines. I wanted to do that thing with new chapters so the chapter would begin halfway down the page, right? So I’d find the new chapter and press enter twenty-five times. In my head, there’s the white space for the chapters.

I exported the Pages document, was it twenty-seven pages or seventeen I can’t remember. Anyway, converted it to Word for my volunteer copy editor and sent it off Wednesday. Deadline Sunday. today is Saturday. Are you with me?

I’m feeling so good about it. Really good. I feel like the story is solid, the protagonist being a secondary character in the main novel I’ve had in my heart and have worked on for years, and the protag from that novel in the story too. I feel great about it. I’ve had fun hanging out with my kids and creating new ones.

Then Thursday morning, before I’ve had coffee, before I’ve played Trivia Crack, I check email on my phone.

Don’t check email on your phone when you haven’t had coffee or played Trivia Crack and you’re already a bundle of nerves from this whole process oh and when Brian is in Sedona for a conference and your sleep is all messed up from staying up all night on Tuesday in a Google hangout with your besties.

email from copy editor lets me know he found extra spaces and other formatting stuff. Extra spaces. After I spent two days going character by character to get rid of them. Words that aren’t capitalized, crazy stuff. Stuff I know I fixed right?

turns out, when you export from Pages to Word and vice versa, formatting errors occur. So I can’t just go through, read his comments, fix what I agree with, stet the rest. this isn’t going to work. I can’t fix those visual errors. I can’t figure out how to make his comments correspond to the area of the manuscript which they refer. I start to panic. I’ve worked so hard. I love this story.

I’m reminded that I’m blind.

later I talk to Ricardo on the phone. He looks at the document with voiceover on his Mac. We try and figure out the comments thing. It’s all so overwhelming. It’s Thursday and the deadline is Sunday. Should I send the manuscript to Amanda who is also blind but uses Jaws with Word? She can fix the formatting issues, keep it in the blind family. but then I still can’t convert back to Pages.

Oh crap I totally left out the cathartic screaming crying fit from earlier in the day. I threw myself on the bed and screamed into my pillow so hard it hurt. I sobbed and sobbed. the cats piled on the bed with me. All I want to be is a writer and there’s all these barriers.

When I’m talking to Ricardo I’m trying so hard not to let the tears come but they do because I can’t do this. I can’t be a writer. There are too many challenges. I need Jaws and Word. All those things I’ve heard for years about Mac and voiceover not working well for professionals, all those things are true. Who am I kidding? I’m a blind disabled nobody and that’s who I’ll stay.

No.

Fuck that.

Deep breath.

Talking to Ricardo. He’s saying all the things I know in my heart, all the things my doubts want to kill. Sure it’s hard. Sure there are barriers. But there are also resources. Amanda told me to use my tools. What are my tools.

Email from the Professor. He can fix the visual stuff. He can just do it, we can talk in the morning, Friday, then he sends me the Word file, I don’t touch it, I submit that.

I tell Ricardo. Should I do that?

Hell yeah!

Weight lifts from my shoulders. People. People are my tools. People are more than happy to help a person who’s doing as much of the hard work as she can on her own.

I think back to the meetings. God will do for me what I can’t do for myself. For me right now, god is those people.

I’m going to be a published writer. I know this. This experience has been so valuable. Even if TMD doesn’t get picked for the anthology, the things I’ve learned from making it the best story it could be are invaluable.

And if it does get published? It could be a launching point.

I struggled with whether to include in my bio that I’m blind. I don’t want to be picked because I’m blind I want to be picked based on the merit of the work. But then I thought back to my last job, the one voc rehab helped me get and they told me not to disclose my MS. Look where that got me? I didn’t get any of the help I needed to be successful while working with a debilitating disability and I went blind.

so I chose to disclose. If I’m going to use the resources available as a blind writer, I can’t pretend I’m not. Hey look at that, tense change. I’m really bad at staying in tense. Hehe! Wait, in tense. Hahaha. Oh but I am so intense at times. In tense. intense. I love freaking words.

I thought back to an essay I read years ago that pissed me off so bad I almost wrote about it here but chose not to. the essay was written by a visually impaired woman who had kept her impairment secret for the same reasons I almost did. She had to admit it though, because she was loosing more and more of her vision.

I was so angry at her at the time but now I get it. It sucks to have to look your weakness full in the face. it sucks to admit oh crap, I can’t do this all on my own. It sucks. It’s painful. I understand now why she wanted to hide it and how much pain she must have been in the day she decided to post that essay.

I have put myself out there now. Until today, five people read TMD. Two blind friends, a young adult friend, and two sighted friends. Friends. All people who care about me. Now the story is in the hands of strangers.

It’s like bearing your soul, which Strunk prepared me for when I read his book.

I slept and slept and slept last night. I woke up at eleven this morning, an hour into the Rays game. So not like me! I was, and still am, exhausted.

After the Rays won (yay!) I opened the submission manager. Deep breath. Heart began racing.

“My heart is racing,” I say.

“Why, because you guys won?” Brian asks.

“No, I’m about to submit the story.”

“Oh!”

He knows what a journey this has been. He’s heard me mumbling during revisions, that doesn’t sound right, how can I reword that, he knows how important this is to me.

Of course I ran into a quick technical issue while looking for the file, the only one on my desktop, to submit. Silly mac.

I clicked submit. There goes the bio I wrote, there goes my baby, bye!

“Your submission has been sent.”

Oy vey, right? Holy crap. I mean holy crap! I tweeted, then grabbed Timmy and went to cuddle him in bed. His purring soothes me. I lay in bed, collecting my thoughts, the feeling slowly returning to my feet.

Now we wait. I posted on Facebook that I’m equal parts sure it will be accepted and that I’ll get my first real rejection.

Whatever happens, I’ll keep writing. Ren and georgie insist on it and their story isn’t done. They’ve got at least an entire novel to appear in, if not two or three. And my friend Dulce made her appearance in TMD when I had to work in a flashback to explain something. We find out she had her first kiss. And Dulce the character needs to meet Jedi the dog, who will love her as much as Jayden loves the real Dulce.

This story isn’t over. It’s just beginning!

4 Comments

Filed under accessibility, accomplishment, Adjustment to blindness, apple Inc, assistive technologies, baseball, cats, coffeeholic, faith, fellowship, gratitude, Jaws, Jayden, Microsoft, misty eyes, screen reader, silly girl, spoons, Timmy, twitter me this, Voiceover, writing

My Not So fiery Thursday

Picture it: Sicily I mean Tucson, a beautiful day in mid April, a 1950’s era home with doors and windows flung wide, a breeze full of deliciously fresh spring air dancing from door to door and door to window.

It was about 12:30pm on Thursday and I was contemplating making my lunch while doing something on the laptop, probably reading Twitter,while Jayden snuggled beside me on the couch. All was quiet and lovely and I was in a wonderful mood after a surprise from iTunes that morning.

After preordering the new Josh groban album, Stages, I was confused to hear the tritone chime alerting me to new downloads. Since the album isn’t out until the twenty-eighth I wasn’t expecting a download. Was it because I preordered the deluxe version? I knew some of the songs were out in the wild since I’d read tweets from people commenting on them. I have avoided reading the song list or listening to any of the new ones, wanting to experience the album song by song, sight unseen.

Curious, I searched my library for Stages and had songs! What was this magic? I didn’t check how many, wondering which songs they would be, anticipation building as I grabbed my bluetooth speaker and settled in to listen.

I had four new Josh Groban songs! four! Is it April 28 yet? April has been an awesome month for books and music, I must say.

So a few hours later as I contemplated making my turkey and radish sandwich before my Thursday call, relaxed back on the couch with my laptop, it took me a few seconds to understand the sudden horrible blaring screeching noise, Jayden bounding off the couch and running, cats running, everyone running and the blaring, was it coming from outside? No. In the house? yes. Do I smell smoke? No. Jayden was leaping around, nails clicking on the tile floor, if the screeching was hurting me it must be killing him.

Follow the sound, it was bouncing off tile and walls, bedroom? windows open in there, the only windows with screens. Neighbor burning weeds again? blaring. I can’t hear myself think. I can’t see. I can’t hear, anything but the blaring. Is something on fire? I don’t smell smoke. Are we ok? I don’t smell smoke. Bedroom, it would be up near the ceiling. run my hands along the rough brick of what used to be the outside of the house. I mutter the word help. A neighbor will hear the blaring and come to help. I can’t reach it. Run out of the bedroom, close the door.

Hurry away from the sound. Pull my phone from my pocket. B might be taking a lunch break. He has working eyes. He can come make the sound stop.

Ding ding: Call B.

Siri: Calling B.

ring ring. Ring ring. ring ring. voicemail.

Hi, um everything is fine and nothing is on fire but the fire alarm thing is going and I can’t stop it but you didn’t answer, think I’ll call the fire department just in case.

Ding ding: Call 911.

Siri: calling emergency in five seconds.

Blaring fire alarm. Head pounding. Nervous giggles threatening.

Silicon Sally: What is your emergency?

Silicone Sally? Seriously?

Um, fire alarm is going off.

Dispatcher, a real woman.

Your fire alarm is going off?

Yes and I’m blind. I don’t smell smoke.

Her voice takes on an edge. You’re blind? Ok sending a truck right now. What is your address?

I tell her, beginning to spell the street name and she interrupts.

I’ve got the spelling. Go outside and wait for the truck ok?

Ok. We hang up.

I freeze in the living room. I usually put timmy in a room when I go outside so he won’t escape. No time. No time to find timmy. He freaked out with the other animals anyway and is probably hiding. Go to back door, grab Jayden’s leash , go to front door, put leash on, step right outside the door, stop.

Wait. In school we always had to walk away from the building. Jayden’s harness is right inside the door. Step back in, grab his harness, step out, put it on, direct him to the curb.

The distant siren growing closer and then the sound of a heavy engine turning the corner. I waved, feeling so happy to hear them so fast. Even though I knew nothing was burning, I was running on pure adrenaline, and that blaring, so loud, hurting my ears…I had known what it was like to lose that all important sense, at least in a way.

the men stomped towards me and cheerfully said hello and I followed one back to the house. Jayden stopped at the door and a fireman behind me said the door was closed.

“I thought he went in ahead of me.”

“He did, he left you in the dust,” a fireman said with a chuckle. We all tromped into the house and the blaring suddenly stopped.

“Did you have anything on the stove?”

“No.”

“Did you have a candle burning in the bedroom?”

“No.”

“We could smell something sweet in there,” he prompted.

“Oh well I have a Plug-In in there.”

They went on to tell me the fire alarms were all rather old. I said I would call the landlord. the first fireman said he left the detecter on the dresser next to the fan. I mentioned the neighbor burning grass and I could hear the eye roll in the first guy’s voice.

“He shouldn’t be doing that.”

I was so wishing he were, so he would get caught at no fault of mine. It was the smoke alarm’s fault.

The men left and I sent a thank you behind them.

Firemen. Even without vision I could tell they were hot. I was suddenly aware of the fact that I was wearing no braw under a t-shirt and men’s pajama bottoms. At least my hair was freshly cut!

B arrived five minutes after the men left and it was good he did because the smoke detector started chirping. We walked around the house thinking it must be one of the other ones but no, it was the same one. The fireman had pulled it off the wall and stopped the screeching but it still had its battery, which B promptly popped out. I left a message for the landlord, b went back to work, and I had my Thursday chat.

Not to worry, if I had smelled smoke, B would not have been my first call. It was a good learning experience. I will get another leash to keep by the front door and will grab Jayden’s harness in the event of an emergency so we can walk to the curb just like I learned in elementary school. The day was interesting, to say the least. And one word: firemen.

2 Comments

Filed under apple Inc, cats, fellowship, gratitude, Jayden, music, Silicone Sally, Timmy, twitter me this, working dog

Take your Benadryl with your Solumedrol so you won’t go quite as craaaaaazy

So if any patient with MS stumbles across the post and you are about to go in for a solumedrol infusion, when you arrive for your treatment the nurses might hand you some Tylenol and Benedryl and you might wonder what it’s for and the nurses will tell you it’s what the doctor ordered but you can refuse it if you want.

If you’re like me, you’re probably going in for Solumedrol because your MS is flairing up a bit and you’re probably sick and tired of being sick and tired and you know the steroids are going to bring relif from your body aches and give you more energy than you’ve had in forever so the thought of taking Benedryl is abhorrant because everyone knows that crap knocks you out right?

Sorry this thing is full of typos. I just got done with four days of going into an infusion center for meds and I came home to cat shit all over my bed. Do you know how not fun that is to clean up when you’re blind?

Anyway, trust me on this, dear MS patient. Take the Benedruyl. The doc probably ordered two, you ccan try just one, today I took both because yesterday, during my third day of treatment, I got anxiety so bad they kept having to stop the infusion.

Steroids can make you crazy. They didn’t for me the first two times I had them but those were times of deep stress and duress. This time I went in relatively healthy expect for the MS flairing up so the steroids did number on my mental health. I’ve also got an anxiety disorder now that I take daily Lexapro for so the general consensus is that the steroids flaired up my anxiety bad.

This morning I was so nuts I felt like Carrie from homeland. I asked my mental health professional boyfriend is this what’ it’s like to be bipolar because yesterday I just wanted to sleep and this morning I was weepy and wanting to walk around raging.

I took the Benedryl today. both of them. And I zoned out, mildly sedated, listening to Josh Groban while the Solumedrol infused. I still feel sluggish now but it’s far better than raging, let me tell you.

I’m done now. I see the neurologist tomorrow and I’ll probably get a prednisone pill to taper off at home. Oh, pick up some Zantac too. Take on in the morning before your breakfast, and eat something for breakfast before you get your infusion. Take another Zantac before dinner. Trust me, steroid heartburn SUCKS.

Ok, that’s it. I harte that this crap has happened during the NaBloPoMo because the last thing i’ve wanted to worry about it posting every day but dammit, I must hahaha. O crap I’m feeling crazy again. I listned to that Gnarles Barkley song all thwe way to treatment this morning.

Let’s see if WordPress embedded that.

1 Comment

Filed under cats, humor as coping skill, Jayden, mental health, NaBloPoMo 2014, spoons, youtube

“The House at Riverton” by Kate Morton – narrated by Caroline Lee

Perhaps I should begin these posts saying which books were not daily deals, rather than pointing out when they were haha. This book was awesome!

The writing was so beautifully written and poetically descriptive that one is instantly plunged into the story itself as though watching a movie. This effect is helped along by the fact that the book opens with the oping scene of a film being shot about the events of the novel. We are transported to the early nineteen twenties when, at a society party, a young poet kills himself and two sisters never speak to one another again. The tale is told from the point of view of a young house maid and we walk with her through all the grandeur of the time, trying to solve the mystery of a closely kept secret.

The story telling bounces back and forth between the young house maid and her elderly self as she is questioned by the makers of the movie called The Shifting Fog.

I remember having a hard time putting this one down. The note I jotted for myself on my list simply reads: that’s fucked up. That is the same reaction I had at the end of the movie 7. It doesn’t seem right to associate such a swear word with such a beautiful book but strong feelings need strong words. I very highly recommend this book. Get it if you can.

Rating: Marriage Material

“The House at Riverton” at Audible

Just a book post today. Cat’s kept us up half the night and I am weary with lack of sleep.

Leave a Comment

Filed under 2014 Book List, Audio books, cats, NaBloPoMo 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

You know, normally I am Mrs. Bah Humbug on Christmas day. I seemed to live in the past or something and not just accept what Christmas is for me today and that is a very simple day of relaxing with b. Why did I have so much envy for the people posting their family stories on social networks? Why couldn’t I be happy for the people with children to spoil with gifts? Why couldn’t I be thrilled for adults with big Christmas trees and plenty of wrapped presents to open from loved ones?

Something changed in me this year and I’m just so incredibly happy! There were no presents to open, no new toys and gadgets to play with, just me and B and Jayden and the cats and the dinner I’ve been planning since Thanksgiving when we once again ate from a food establishment.

There is peace in the thought that Gamma isn’t suffering through another lonely Christmas missing her husband. I miss her. I miss talking to her on the phone today. But I’m cooking Mom’s roast in Gamma’s pot and while I was preparing it I couldn’t help but smile thinking about how both of them are represented for me today.

So what if my Christmas isn’t “typical”? So what if there aren’t decorations and bows and wrapping paper? Ice T put it perfectly in a tweet of his this morning. He wrote something like, if you have a warm place to sleep, you are having a Merry Christmas.

I will embrace my inner peace today and not question why I am happy. I just am! And that is a lovely place to be.

PS – I’m starting to smell the roast cooking!

PPS – B was in charge of picking out a pie since I was too ill to bake one like I wanted. Why did I even bother to ask what he got? peanut butter, of course!

PPPS – I’m going to post this completely as is to capture how I feel in this moment. 🙂

1 Comment

Filed under cats, family, Gamma, gratitude, holiday, Jayden, misty eyes, mom, num num food

From the Desk of my Sleep Deprived Cat Audio

So every time I write a sleep deprived post, which is a really odd tradition to have but I seem to have made it a tradition because as soon as I decided to say screw it and get up at 5:30 this morning after laying awake since at least 4:00 I thought, I’ll need to write a post. I also always seem to write really rambly run on sentences in these. I planned on starting this post another way but then a described movie started in iTunes even though I swear I set them all to skip when shuffle so I had to go do that in iTunes. It was The Glenn Miller Story, have you seen that?

Right, so I meant to start off this post by saying I always look back on the previous sleep deprived post when I write one of these. In the last one, I wrote about how I had to have a colonoscopy because of my recurring diverticulitis and I was all doom and gloom about it, being pretty sure there’d be nothing they could do about it, that they were just ruling out something more serious, my life was already messed up so throw more at me oh woe is me cry me a river pour me another. Well guess what? Yeah, gastro doc said, “everything looks fine, you only have a small area of diverticula, keep taking the fiber and probiotics and you should be fine.”

Hmmm, will it really be that simple? Well that was back in April, the bum hose and I’ve been taking the supplements as suggested since and I’ve been fine. I even found the probiotics he recommended on Amazon for way cheaper than they were at Walgreens. I signed up to have them delivered every month and saved even more. So all my woe is me talk was just silly.

So this morning I was laying on the couch for a bit with Timmy and he was purring like crazy so I decided to grab a quick voice note.

In that I mention that his front paws are declawed and I say I don’t believe in that. I just want to clarify what I meant. I just can’t knowingly cut off a cat’s first knuckle. My mom and I always trained our cats not to claw the furniture. I’ve lost that battle in this apartment since B never trained Fi not to claw furniture so there was no point in trying to train Spinelli. So yeah, that’s what I meant by not believing in declawing. When I listened back on that I thought that was an odd choice of wording haha.

At one point I jingle Timmy’s bell collar and it made me think of Carin and Steve. Bells!

Timmy totally sounds like a pidgin at one point. I’m not sure if it’s really as funny as I thought or if I’m just delirious from sleep deprivation.

I totally couldn’t stop the recording at the end. the ol’ two finger double tap no longer works in iOS 7.0.3 I guess.

So how bout that for some sleep deprived fun with cats? First time I’ve put audio in one of these I think. I haven’t slept well the last few nights. Nature calls and wakes me up and I can’t get back to sleep for awhile. This morning I just gave up. I realized after I’d already had coffee that I forgot to use my meditation bells. Gah! Reading that last post, I sure remembered them then! Grrr. Just hope I sleep tonight.
I wrote this post much later in the day than normal for this category. It’s 1:33pm, do you know where your feet are?

I write the word “so” too much.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Amazon, cats, coffeeholic, doc, Fi, iPhone, iTunes, mom, plugs, random stuff, silly girl, Sleep Deprived Fun, Timmy

Pavlovian Hiccups

Growing up my mom and I took in a stray cat and called her Little Kitty because she was so tiny . She was this pure white cat with one blue eye and one green and she adored my mom. I don’t know how we discovered that cats love playing with straws, but we would play with Little Kitty for hours while she sat on the cat tree. We’d toss the straw to her and most of the time she’d catch it in her paws and when she didn’t, she’d leap down and grab it and jump back on top of the cat tree. We’d grab the straw from her and lather, rinse, repeat.

So when Spinelli was a kitten, I grabbed a straw and she would entertain me for hours playing with the straw. I’d toss it and she’d go get it and bring it back. Eventually we’d lose the straw and I’d grab another and before long, ratty straws could be found all over the house, in corners and crevices, in the couch even. You’d be sitting on the couch and all of the sudden this nasty flattened straw would land in your lap and the game would begin.

Now, I have this trick for hiccups that I do with a straw. Mom learned a variation of this when she was in the hospital with cancer the first time. She had the hiccups really bad and a nurse got behind her, plugged her ears, and had her chug water. The nurse didn’t let go of Mom’s ears until she took a breath. So we always did that to each other and anyone who was at the house if they got hiccups.

Fast forward years later when I’m living alone and get the hiccups. The first few times, I tried to prop a water bottle up with my legs while I plugged my ears. Too much water was spilled in my bed so I eventually figured out if I used a straw, I could plug my own ears and chug the water and release my ears after taking a breath. If it doesn’t work the first time, it always works the second time.

Spinelli has learned that the sound of prolonged hiccups means a straw is coming. Since getting Jayden, there are no more straws laying all over the house so the only time she gets to play with one is when I have the hiccups.

This afternoon I got hiccups out of the blue and was hoping they’d go away so I wouldn’t have to get up and go do the straw trick. I should have expected it, but I heard Spinelli’s little meow and she jumped up on the arm of the couch next to me and meowed after each hiccup. I finally stopped torturing her, did the straw trick and then played awhile. Jayden was by my side the whole time and I could just hear him thinking, “what’s fun about a straw?” C’mon dude, you like empty water bottles, what’s the difference?

2 Comments

Filed under cats, funnies, Jayden, jayden quirks, mom, random stuff, Spinelli

Carnival Post – Top Ten

Here is the complete Carnival!

***

It’s the tenth Assistance Dog Blog Carnival! Click here to read about what the blog carnival is and click here to read about this round and it’s topic. The ADBC has come full circle in this round, being hosted by the original host, After Gadget.

I have had the ultimate writer’s block but really wanted to submit since I submitted in the first round. I’m just going to write and not try to be organized haha! The topic for this post is “Perfect Ten”. I wracked my brains trying to come up with an idea but my inner creative chick is still sleeping apparently so I’m just going to jump in to some free form and see what comes out. Sometimes writing about Jayden is like trying to express gratitude. I tend to get very flustered when my heart is so full.

Jayden isn’t perfect and nor am I but I always say our match was perfect. Guide Dogs for the Blind was perfect in matching Jayden to me. I can’t imagine anything that is lacking from our partnership. When GDB asked me what I wanted in a dog I had no idea since I grew up with cats. I told them I just needed a chill dog who would be ok when my MS flared up and I needed to rest. I think GDB gave me the most chill dog available haha! He is cool with whatever I need. He loves to relax on the couch with me but when I need him to work he snaps to attention like a soldier. He has gotten so in tune with me that he knows exactly what I need, sometimes before I do. He’ll slow down on walks when he knows I’m tiring. Sometimes I try to speed him up and he disobeys and then I feel my fatigue. He knows before I do; it’s pretty crazy! He really was the perfect match in so many ways. I’m amazed at these schools and how well they do in the matching process.

I never imagined all the added bonuses (non guide work stuff) that would come with a guide dog. Let’s see if I can come up with ten added bonuses:

Good Potassium Numbers

When I was in the hospital when I went blind, my potassium was dangerously low. They gave me a pill and after I saw my doctor upon my release, she ordered a banana a day. That didn’t work out so well because I couldn’t make bananas last long enough; they went bad so quickly. After I got Jayden, I remember his raiser telling me Jay loved bananas. Now my potassium stays in good shape thanks to bananas and orange juice. How could anyone not want to share a banana with a dog who goes crazy when he hears the question, “do you want a banana?” (That link has audio) Oh and orange juice taste even better when it’s a banana chaser!

Tear Soaker Upper

I should have known what a comfort Jayden would be when I’m sad. Heck even my cats have soaked up tears over the years but they don’t hold still like Jayden does. Since Jayden and I have that incredibly strong bond of assistance dog and handler, he knows when I need him to just lay still and let me cry on him. It’s a good thing tears don’t hurt his coat haha!

A Schedule A Dog Makes

One of the hardest parts about going blind and being medically retired was the sudden loss of a schedule. Weekends were no longer anything special since every day was like a weekend. Working folk think this would all be a dream come true but when you’re twenty-nine and suddenly can’t be self supporting, it’s a huge loss of identity. It’s amazing what a schedule will do to add a sense of purpose, at least it did for me. Jayden is on a feeding and relieving schedule very similar to what he had at guide dog school. Working my life around his schedule led me to realize how great schedules can be for adding structure to my otherwise structureless life. I’ve since come up with workout and cleaning schedules that turn my week into a “work week” and allow me to enjoy weekends with B. Amazing how a pee schedule for my guide dog turned my day-to-day life into something more “normal”.

Fitness Lives

When I decided to get a guide dog I knew I’d have to do some work to build up my stamina. I needed to be able to walk a mile since I’m pretty sure that was one of the requirements for acceptance to GDB. Luckily the blind center has a gym and a health and wellness program and my name came up on the waiting list at the same time I decided to apply to GDB. Serendipity? My whole life I’ve wanted to be fit and healthy but it’s hard without guidance and I was never successful. I reached my goal of being prepared for guide dog school but I never stopped with the fitness. It has since become something of an addiction for me and since I no longer can work out at the blind center, I’ve developed a program for myself at home. I’m more fit that I’ve ever been and exercise has been the best form of treatment for the MS. This might be the most important added bonus!

Ex-Smoker

Ok this is easily a tie with the fitness as one of the best added bonuses. Anyone who smokes or used to smoke knows how hard it is to quit. For me it was easier to quit drinking than it was to quit smoking. Jayden became another motivation however, when I thought about what would happen to him if I wasn’t around. I also hated exposing him to that and I’ve now been quit over a year.

Someone To Watch Over

I’ve never wanted children. Ever since I was a teenager I didn’t want children. It’s almost as if something prepared me for my future. It’s not that I can’t have kids now,I’m fully capable, but I wouldn’t have the energy. The MS is definitely my primary disability, not the blindness. However as a woman, it’s in my nature to want to care for something. I worked in therapy about the choice not to have children because even though for years I told myself I didn’t want them, there was still this huge sense of loss when I realized I would never carry a child and rase an adult. Jayden has filled a huge part of that void and that is something I certainly never expected. I knew going into this partnership that Jayden would look to me to fill his needs but I never expected the fulfillment I get out of being that person for him! I take pride when the vet tells me how good his teeth look or when a fellow dog lover tells me how great he looks. Yes, he was raised by another before he came to me, but I’ve continued to mold and shape him and care for him and I think of him as my child. I think most animal owners think of their pets as their kids, I know I always did with my cats, but this goes so much deeper. I never expected my guide dog to fill most of the void left by the child I’ll never have.

Fear Management

The first summer after I went blind we had an insane monsoon season and during one particularly bad storm, I asked B to go into the spare room and get the cat out of there. I can’t remember why I wanted her out. B went to go get her and then I heard shattering glass and the door slam and I started screaming, not sure where B was. The wind had been howling and whistling, sounds I had never heard before. B was ok, he had just come out of the room when the wind blew the window in and caused the door to slam. After that I was terrified of wind. I was afraid I would transfer this fear to my dog so I asked at school what to do about that. I was told to just try and be as cool as possible and make storms fun for my dog. I never imagined how this would cure me of my fear! Now the wind has to be really bad to scare me but I don’t panic like I used to. I just calmly take Jayden with me to a safe spot in the house and “cuddle”. I feel safer and he doesn’t get freaked out. I love this added bonus! That fear of wind was getting debilitating before Jayden came around.

Ultimate Feet Warmer

As I’ve been writing this off and on over the last few hours, Jayden has been in several positions on the couch next to me. While I was writing the last bit, he got off the couch and lay down on my feet. It’s almost like he was saying, “don’t forget to include how much you love it when I lay on your feet!” There is just something so comforting about the weight of him on my feet and nothing is better at warming them! I love it when he does this. The only negative about when your dog is comfortable with some part of him resting on you is that you don’t want to disturb him and therefore don’t move. I’m pretty sure my feet are going to fall asleep haha!

Attitude Adjustment

It’s really hard to stay in a bad mood when you have a goober head constantly cheering you up. I might be feeling depressed and then it’s time for Jayden’s afternoon Kong Wobbler treat. I’ve taken to pronouncing “wobbler” so it sounds very French and you can’t stay in a bad mood when you’re asking your dog if he wants his Wobbler in a high pitched silly French accent. Then when he’s done with it and I ask him to show me and he takes me to where he left it, I get so proud and excited and he gets thrilled to get his reward “cookie”, that I find myself grinning so big my cheeks ache.

Fellowship

When I decided to apply for a guide dog, I told my friend Chupa that I wanted to start a blog to document the process. I jokingly said I could call it Doggy Diaries or something. She said I totally should and my old Blogger blog was born along with the Doggy Diaries category. Before I knew it I was a part of a fellowship of other guide dog handlers and puppy raisers and I felt so apart of the blind community, finally. I felt so alone when I went blind since no one I knew understood what I was going through. There was one woman I spoke with on the phone, a friend of a friend and it was actually her guide dog who was the first guide dog I met. This blog though, led me to the people who helped me feel not so lonely and they came with me on the journey of getting a guide dog. Some of those people are still my closest friends today and I bet some of those people are submitting posts for this very carnival. The fellowship in the guide dog community is certainly one I never in a million years expected when I applied to GDB in September of 2009!

Ok wow, my arms are aching something awful but look, I wrote the post! Haha, and it turned out more organized than I thought it would. I’ll come back and add a link to the complete carnival post when it’s up.

3 Comments

Filed under accomplishment, Adjustment to blindness, blog carnival, cats, Doggy Diaries, fellowship, GDB, gratitude, guide dogs, intelligent disobedience, Jayden, jayden quirks, misty eyes, monsoons, num num food, puppy raisers, relieving, spoons, therapy, weather, working dog, workouts, youtube

Home Sweet Home

Taking a short trip was nice but man oh man is it good to be home! It is exhausting learning to live in a new space, having to pay close attention constantly, getting turned around easily. If you’re sighted, just imagine being blindfolded and put in a car for six hours and then being walked into a hotel room. It’s pretty intense! Naturally, when I had pretty much figured out the room, it was time to go.

I love being home in my space that I can move around with ease and confidence. It took some time for Jayden to relax too. He followed me around until just a bit ago, when I got my computer hooked back up and sat down on the couch with my keyboard. He’s curled up beside me now and I’m sure I speak for both of us when I say it’s wonderful to not be stuck in the car!

I’ll be writing about the trip soon but for now I’m just happy to be home and comfortable. B is the best travel companion! It was awesome but I can’t wait to sleep in my own bed tonight. Oh I haven’t mentioned that I did all this back on poisonous antibiotics since I got another attack of diverticulitis over the weekend. I get to start the liquid diet tomorrow Yay! Haha…at least I had the best food EVER last night. I mean, EVER. The best…food…EVER.

Oh and cats! It was so good to see the cats! Yay!

Leave a Comment

Filed under cats, Jayden, NaBloPoMo 2012, num num food