Category Archives: gratitude

Absentee Blogger

I have not posted a blog post since March 25, 2017. *GULP* When I think about how much my life has changed in that time, a huge part of me wants to put the keyboard away, grab my phone and bluetooth speaker, and curl up in bed with a book or a podcast. But….I had a request to pick up my virtual pen and post again. And that request came from my beloved uncle, so who am I to ignore that?

So to figure out what exactly I should write for this (hopefully) first post in my return to regular blogging, I looked back at the last few postings here and that didn’t help me narrow things down. Quite to the contrary, it made me realize that this is going to take quite a few posts for me to hit the main points in the story arc needed to paint a picture of what happened during my radio silence. Ooh, ooh, is it outline time? I used to be a pantser and now I’m a plantser. Technically, that only applies when I’m in novel prep and not blog prep, but in this case, plantsing applies. So I’ll think about main points about life since my last post in which I wrote about really being a writer. Oh boy did that thing ever jinx me or what?! Ha! Long story short on that one is that I learned a lot from Jerry’s Guild but being on a fixed income, I quit paying for it, especially since I wasn’t making enough use of it. I felt like the webinars simply repeated themselves and I was no longer learning anything new. I had to trim costs because of, woo our first outline item! #RoGetsAnApartment. Yes, I speak in hashtags.

Actually something bigger happened before I got my apartment, but the trimming costs thing started when I knew I’d be getting my own place. We must back up to, holy crap I can’t believe I never posted about this since Jayden, better known as Insert when I began this blog, was the entire reason it was started in the first place.

At the end of September, I flew Jayden to Fresno, CA to retire with his puppy raisers. This will need to be its own special post, so I’ll leave out the details for now. I will say however, that his retirement couldn’t have been any better unless he had been able to stay with me. Ok I’m gonna start crying now, so stay tuned for a post all about his retirement and what a beautiful thing it is. For your peace of mind, just imagine my mellow yellow lab laying on his back on the couch while his two best friends, career-change male yellow labs, lay nearby. The three of them are inseparable!

In July of last year, I took a trip to Colorado, leaving Jayden home since at that point, Jayden was pretty much fully retired, and I didn’t want to put him through the rigors of such a trip. My bestie Chupa lives in Colorado and there was a conference in the Rockies, a weekend of recovery for members of my program and their families. My plan had been to go to the conference as an excuse to hang out with Chupa, and maybe soak up a little recovery while I was at it. While I had remained sober, I hadn’t been active in a recovery program since just before I received Jayden in 2010. That was a lot of years of no active program filling the vacuum which alcohol had created when I gave it up. I blogged about the terrible headspace I was in in February of last year. Little did I know that fully Immersing myself back into a program of recovery would relieve me of that misery.

The conference filled me up, and as we joined hands to pray at the close, I started saying the words only for them to be swallowed by gut-wrenching sobs as I listened to the swell of united voices in the convention hall. I was home. Another long story short, perhaps lengthened in coming posts, I ran back to Bellingham and dove head first into the program that saved my life back in April of 2005, the program that kept me sober through the loss of my eyesight in 2008, the principles that kept me sober through the dry years, through deaths and health issues, and world events that threatened to break me. Now that I’m back actively working a program of recovery, I am much better suited to handle the news of the world without needing to call the suicide prevention hotline like I did last year. #Grateful

After much searching and aggravation and near hopelessness at my circumstances, I finally found an adorable studio apartment. I’m grateful that my last romantic relationship moved in to one of good friendship. I’ve lived independently now since December and LOVE IT! This is the first time it’s been just me since 2007 when B and I took each other hostage back in my sighted days. I’m now one of those blind people I had admired so much when I was newly blind and reading blog posts by other blind people who lived on their own and took care of themselves. Wow! This would not be going as smoothly (knock on wood) as it is without all of my friends.

My friends! Oh my friends…the people in the fellowship who have scooped me up and made me a part of their family. Thank God for my friends!

So, there’s a few tidbits for you, dear reader, and for future me who will look back and be grateful I’m catching up on my personal archives. Let this post be an outline for posts to come. Let me hereby commit to regular writing here and hopefully over at Randi Writes where I hope to start sharing some creative writing stuff. It’s still a work in progress. Creating a website while blind can be rather challenging on the visual elements. Speaking of, I was informed that the contrast between text and background here at the Roof is somewhat hard to read. This was the first I’d heard of it, so I wonder if my colors somehow got changed. Sighted readers, would you mind leaving me a comment with the device you’re using and how the site looks for you? Thanks in advance.

I hope you are well, that you know you are loved, and that you might be surprised to check in here and finally see a new post if you used to be a regular reader. It’s been hard out there in the world and I hope to get back to spreading my silver linings like Santa Clause spreads cheer. *groan* Ro, really? It’s freaking June. Happy summer, ya’ll! Unless you’re in Australia, in which case, stay warm!

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Filed under accomplishment, faith, family, fellowship, gratitude, guide dogs, Insert, Jayden, mental health, misty eyes, puppy raisers, sobriety, writing

I’ve Been Calling Myself a Writer. Now I Believe it.

Deciding to dedicate all study and practice to my first memoir was the best decision I could have made for myself and my writing. A few months ago, I realized that all the information I was getting from free resources–articles, blog posts, writing classes, and podcasts–was simply being disseminated in different ways, no longer teaching me anything new. When I first moved to Bellingham, I considered going back to school since I felt like my life was starting anew, but I am just not well enough to commit to a rigorous academic schedule, especially not one that requires attending physical class at specific times.

However I’ve wanted my writing to ascend to that next level, needing to move beyond what I can teach myself. One day, some headline caught my attention on Twitter, leading me to JerryJenkins.com. I don’t remember what the post was about, but I liked it so much that I signed up for his email list and received a message about a free webinar. I’ve since played so many of his webinars that I can’t remember what it was about. At first I was suspicious. The chairperson kept mentioning Jerry’s Guild, and stay tuned for information on how to join, and take advantage of this extra deal only offered during the webinar, and blah zee blah blah. I was like ok whatever, I’ll take my free information and go. But…

The information was so good. Jerry spoke from experience, of which he has much. While a lot of it was stuff I’d taught myself over the years, hearing it from a human voice and not my screen reader, with real-time examples, I felt things I’d learned begin to click into place. So I paid to join the Guild. All of Jerry’s webinars are available to me now (albeit not completely controllable with my screen reader) and I’ve since been able to study from home when I’m well enough to focus my mental energy. I’ve started putting into practice the things I’m learning and my writing has indeed jumped to the next level.

I wrote the first draft of my memoir back in November for NaNoWriMo and have since been in the rewriting phase, using Jerry’s teachings on ferociously self editing as I go, having a blast making scenes really pop. Using my own story to practice has been invaluable, as there’s little struggling over plot and character, since my plot is my story and I’m the protagonist. I say little struggling because, while I know my own story, I find myself writing about an event that took place before or after something else, only to notice while rewriting that that timeline is incorrect.

On Thursday, I attended jerry’s memoir webinar and it showed me what’s been missing, solidifying all that I’ve taught myself. Like switching from margarine to butter in my baking, I’ve finally found the ingredient that makes the recipe click. Yes! So…I’ve been working on the second draft of my memoir, tightening up the writing, adding color and shading to the sketches, and it’s 2008 and I’m about to go blind.

After Jerry’s memoir webinar, I’ve realized that my structure is all wrong, and from the work I’ve done, new themes have emerged. If I had the attention of an agent or publisher with a hard deadline, I’d be freaking out right now. How’s that for a silver lining? the only deadline thus far is my goal for finishing this draft by April 24th. I’ve considered abandoning it to begin working with my new theme and structure, but I’ve decided to finish this work since it has become a silver mine of experience and personal growth. After I finish it, I’ll mine it for the silver that’s waiting to shine. This memoir is like a paint by numbers picture for the beginning artist. I’ve been calling myself a writer. Now I believe it.

Thank you, Jerry Jenkins!

*Coming soon: randioomens.com*

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Filed under accomplishment, gratitude, NaNoWriMo, plugs, screen reader, spoons, twitter me this, writing

A Melancholy Joy

I jotted down those words on Christmas Eve because they so perfectly described how I was feeling, and the more I’ve thought about them, I’ve realized how they also sum up 2016 for me. This year has been absolutely life altering, both on a personal level and as an American. I did some travel in the early part of the year to see Josh Groban in concert, attend Rays spring training games, and visit with Florida friends. I returned home to get ready for a hysterectomy in the same month. I keep telling myself I should have feelings about now being barren, but I just don’t, ha! Not long after I recovered, My relationship ended and I fell in love again, and moved to Washington. Whoa, right? I watched Brexit unfolding on Twitter and prayed America would learn from Britain’s decision, and my hopes sank into fear and disbelief as my country elected, deep breath, I cannot write his name.

It’s hard for me to believe the turns my life has taken this year, some wonderful turns. I want to hate 2016 for all the awful, the terrorist attacks, the shootings, the steps backward in civil liberties, but I can’t help but love 2016 for what it has done for my mental health and writing. I completed the first draft of my memoir for National Novel Writing Month and am actively working on draft two. I took a fiction writing class and feel more in touch with my creative side than I remember being in a very long time. I have a file now rich with story ideas and character traits and observations. While working on draft two of the memoir, I’ve noticed how much I’ve learned about telling a story.

I thought that writing my own story would be easier than fiction. I know all the twists and turns, so it should be easy to write, right? Ha! Not only is it just as challenging to shape each sentence, it’s been taxing mentally to spend so much time in my past, especially during the holidays. That’s where the melancholy joy set in, when I received a Christmas card from my uncle and realized that I would not be getting one of his awesome hugs this year for the holidays or my birthday, the hug that he pours all his love and feeling into. I ran my fingers over the textured, glittery card as if it were braille and an ache grew in my chest and dissolved into tears. David and his son were putting up the tree, anticipation and excitement palpable, and my own joy at being here began warring with my sadness. Which one wins? The one you feed. I let the melancholy come, let myself feel it so it could pass, and moved on. I had a wonderful Christmas with my new family. David got me a soprano ukulele for my birthday, which was yesterday. I want so badly to play with it right now, but I promised myself I could have it as a reward if I worked on rewrites and posted a blog. Discipline baby!

So, 2016 comes to a close. I know many of us are ready to see the back of it. So much death this year. I won’t rehash it since we all know, we were all here, and we’ve all had our fair share of hardships along with worldwide hurt. I hope that 2017 will be better, I cling to that hope, though the pragmatist in me says, “hold on, darlin’. It’s only just begun.” I’ll focus on my art. I’ll work on making this book be the best it can be so I can share my silver linings and hope with the world. That’s my goal for 2017, to publish, yes, but most importantly, to continue to be a bright spot, continue to let my light shine. my goal is to make people smile, whether it be David or his family, a stranger on the street, a stranger on Twitter, or a reader of my blog and (hopefully) book. Let’s all strive for that, yeah? Let’s all hold on to our asses and protect those around us and love. All you need is love, right John Lennon?

Happy New Year! We can do it!

Ooooh now I can go play with my ukulele!

Here’s the first song to make its way into my memoir. It appeared during work on the second draft today.

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Filed under baseball, birthday, family, gratitude, mental health, music, twitter me this, writing

Let it snow! Let it um, snow…oh crap it’s gonna snow

Happy holidays, everyone! Whoa wait, what? Who am I and what have you done with Ro? Yeah yeah yeah, so I’m not all bah humbug this year, what can I say? something about being a part of a happy family with a child, in the cold, with the scent of a pine candle on a warmer next to my computer has made me embrace the holidays like I haven’t done since I was newly sober and life was shiny and new. Hmmm, shiny new life, happy with the holidays. coincidence? I think not.

Anyway, snow. The first time it snowed here a week ago, it felt magical. We woke up to everything covered in sparkling white, at least that’s how I imagined it. The kids had the day off thanks to the once monthly teacher planning day, and the sounds of happy children filled the air.

I put on the heavy winter coat I bought at Value Village over my normal layers, added a heavy crochet scarf (granny squares sewed together that was supposed to be a bed coverlet that I gave up on) and my new fur lined boots and went outside with Jayden. We walked up and down the street with the kids and I marveled at the feel and sound of crunching underfoot. David’s ten year-old kept brushing piles of snow off Jayden’s nose. the kids filled a wheelbarrow full of snow from people’s cars to build an ice fort in the front yard of the house across the street from David’s. There was so much joy!

Then I started feeling the cold and my scarf was getting kind of gross since I had it wrapped around my nose and mouth and did you know that cold makes your nose run?

When we stepped into the house, my body instantly began baking in my layers, my boots squeaking as snow melted and I realized my feet, and Jayden’s, were wet and tracking snow into the house. Not so magical, I thought.

I peeled off layers and dried our feet and settled in to drink coffee and read some Twitter while the kids played outside. When it was time for Jayden to have a pee, I bundled up, wrapped the scarf around my face, laced my feet into my boots, and went back outside to enjoy the snow again. David’s son came into the yard and pelted me with a snowball. It was on!

I picked up the nicely packed snowball and rubbed it up, imagining red stitches against the white, my fingers across four seams. I narrowed my eyes at the giggling child at the plate, wound up and let fly. It went way left and was most definitely a wild pitch. A runner on third would have scored easily. All the ten year-old’s snowballs hit me squarely. Hmmm, this isn’t fun like I remember it the few times it snowed in Tucson when I was sighted, I thought, as a kid, or as an adult at the pool hall when we scooped snow off of cars to throw at each other since it didn’t stick on the ground. That night had been the first time I’d driven in the snow,, and last, unbeknownst to me. It looked like warp speed on the Starship Enterprise as the flakes were caught in the beams of my headlights.

This time, there was no snowball fight with friends in a parking lot and no warp speed stars. the kids went off to a friend’s house and with no happy little voices frolicking around, just Jayden and me crunching around in the snow alone, we went inside to where it was warm and where David, accustomed to the Washington weather, waited with coffee and a hug.

The snow turned to ice after some lovely freezing rain and temperatures, and I got used to bundling up for the minute it takes Jayden to relieve himself. Apparently, this weather hasn’t been normal around these parts for quite some time, though more snow is coming. Just in time for the frigid air, a big box full of winter clothes arrived on my doorstep from a Rays fan friend in Florida. She’d lived in the Pacific Northwest for awhile, and those clothes were going unused, so now I have a variety of sweaters to choose from, rather than this Rays shirt, or that Rays tank top, with this Rays hoodie, or that one. She even sent a hooded wool coat. thanks, friend!

I think I’ll wrap this up and go make some chocolate peanut butter candy to see how the boys like it. I get to make Mom’s old favorite holiday sweets now that there are plenty of people to enjoy them.

Merry Christmas!

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Filed under baseball, coffeeholic, crochet, family, gratitude, holiday, Jayden, mom, num num food, relieving, sobriety, twitter me this, weather, working dog

I’m Home

It wasn’t a geographical in the AA sense of things, since I wasn’t running away from something, I was running to something. And I think I’ve found way more than I bargained for.

That was the thought running through my head this morning that made me run to my computer after refilling my coffee, knowing I needed to write a blog post. I got out of bed early today since I lay awake thinking of how close I was to finishing the first draft of the memoir – finally. I used NaNoWriMo this year to fully commit to the memoir. I studied memoir in October, reading “The Memoir Project” by Marion Roach. The book was recommended on Twitter by Josh Hanagarne @JoshHanagarne), author of “The World’s Strongest Librarian”, and I will be forever grateful to him for that recommendation. The book showed me how to structure the memoir and how to plan to write it. It showed me to find the message I wanted to convey, and that helped me narrow down which parts of my life were relevant.

What I have is a 50,550 (cool number, eh?) word sketch draft of this memoir, with the ending I imagined while doing my prep work.

I have a finished, first terrible draft of a book!

I’m pretty sure it’ll be longer than what I have now, because as I wrote, I would remember things that will need to go in, but I just jotted those down as notes to be added during rewrites. I’ll be learning Windows and Jaws *gulp* for the editing process, because the Mac and Voiceover is sorely lacking in the word processing department. Luckily, I’m in the right place with a Windows geek who can help me with that. Pray for him. *wink wink*

When last I posted, I listed all the challenges I’d been through with my benefits. I had planned to post again with fun stories about moving here, and I’ll still do that, but not in this post. Today I just wanted to post about finishing my first draft, because the feeling is incredible. I’ve finished multiple drafts of two short stories now, and those felt great, but finishing the first draft of this memoir, a book that’s been fighting to get out since way back when I had a Blogger blog, feels absolutely incredible.

I think it’s this move to Washington. It felt like home before I ever got here, and I’m so grateful it has felt more and more like home the longer I’ve been here. My creativity has grown in leaps and bounds here. I can stand outside in the front yard and just be, just listen and feel and smell. It’s so alive here! Everything is alive. Grass, trees, the nearby ocean that I smell when I step outside, everything is living, including me.

Without a doubt, I know this is home now. though I suppose we’ll see what I say in February, eh?

I’ve had to put some money down on warm stuff, but not much. I got thermal underwear on Amazon that I wear every day under my sweats and three tops, ha! David’s, and now my, friend took me to Value Village for a member’s only sale. This woman knows how to bargain hunt! I got two winter coats and a bunch of warm stuff to wear around the house. I’m currently wearing wool socks, thermal pants, sweats, a tight tank top, thermal shirt, fleece shirt, hoodie, NaNoWriMo beanie, and fingerless gloves. I’m pretty much warm, ha! I freaking love it!

It’s not so fun when it’s wet, but I’m getting used to it. The raincoat I bought for guide dog school hangs in the mud room, ready to grab to keep dry, and I’m waiting on a rain coat I ordered from GDB for Jayden. I certainly never expected to be buying a doggy raincoat. I never expected to move to Washington, either, so it just goes to show how unreliable expectations are. Tip: don’t have expectations, and prepare yourself for the unexpected.

Near the end of October, while I was preparing for NaNoWriMo and taking a fiction writing class, we met up with some of David’s family and went to the Hobuck beach at Neah Bay. David, his son, and cousins, all surfed. In the cold. I’ll be trying it in the summer if all goes as planned. Hey now, watch those expectations.

For Thanksgiving, we went to David’s parents’s house for salmon dinner. A lot of Salmon is eaten here, which is excellent, because salmon is a good anti-inflammatory food. Antiinflammation food? Hmmm. Anyway, we eat a lot of salmon and I love it.

There have been challenges. I’m still ironing out all the benefits stuff. It turns out that Medicare does follow you from state to state, but if you have a Medicare advantage plan like I had in Arizona, tying Medicaid and Medicare together with an insurance company like United Healthcare, you have to do more than just cancel your state’s Medicaid. Unbeknownst to me, my Medicare stuck to Arizona even after I cancelled Medicaid, and the only reason I found out was because when my new doctor tried to write a neurology referral, my new health group didn’t take my Arizona insurance, which I thought I had cancelled. Long story short, I had to call Medicare and get on a basic plan, and get on a prescription drug plan. As far as I understand it, everything should be straightened out on December 1, and I’ll officially be a Washingtonian, *knock on wood*.

I wasn’t planning on going into all that, but the fingers write what the fingers write. I have another call to make about my Medicaid, because I have a navigator woman with my medical group, who said I should not be on that ridiculous spend down thing. So fingers crossed she’s right.

So there’s another update for you, my one dear reader *cough* Torie *cough*. I’m thinking as I revise the memoir, maybe I’ll post things that end up on the cutting room floor. Though perhaps not until I know for sure. Better safe than sorry.

***Tip*** When taking your dog to the beach, no matter how short a leash you have him on, he’s still at risk for beach gut. Did you know that’s a thing? Yup, that’s a thing. My did Jayden get sick. Silver lining: I took him to the neighbor’s vet, which I really liked.

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Filed under accomplishment, coffeeholic, family, GDB, gratitude, holiday, Jaws, Jayden, Microsoft, num num food, twitter me this, vet visit, Voiceover, weather, writing

Moving State with a Disability

I’ve needed to write a post about moving and simply have not gotten around to it. Then this morning, it occurred to me how I can sum it all up with the aid of lists. So let’s see how this works. I’ll attempt to briefly sum up the reason for the move, and then add some lists. Ready? Here we go.

I’ll not give details, but B and I split up and tried to stay in the house in Tucson as roommates, since I didn’t exactly have easy options for moving out. Life tends to offer little choice when living on disability, as I’ve learned all too well. Our lease was up at the end of September, and we were going to go month-to-month while I figured out what I was going to do.

I had a plane ticket to Washington to test things out. Doctors have told me for years to move to a cooler climate, and it seemed as though the Universe were nudging me to finally act on that advice. I had met someone on an iPhone app called Vorail, which is a voice only social network. You can see why the blind flocked to it, ha! His name is David and we quickly formed an intense friendship. He came to Tucson in early July and we clicked.

So, August 15 was to be the start of a test here in Washington, but then it turned out that B and I would not be going month-to-month after the lease was up, so I had nothing to return to.

I packed everything up and put it into storage in Tucson and brought with me to Washington, three suitcases, a backpack, and Jayden.

Crazy right?

I could drone on about the travel day, but really there’s not much to say, other than I bawled my eyes out that morning after the movers came back and took my bed and my friend picked me up to drive me to the airport. Thanks Maritza, miss you! Leaving Tucson, the only city in which I’ve ever lived, for good? I didn’t yet know. Tears rolled down my face as the plane taxied and a man behind me told stories to his son about the things he saw out the window, how the airport had looked decades ago. I cried as I thought about my grandpa having been the accountant for the airport and how, at his retirement party, he was presented with two cakes made up to look like Alka-Seltzer tablets.

The roller coaster of emotion I had been on for months was taking another loop-the-loop. I was so excited to get here to David, to meet his nine year-old son, to see the house I’d heard so much of over vorail and FaceTime, to meet his family, to be near the ocean, but I was leaving my entire life behind. I was so grateful I had Jayden with me.

So that, in a nutshell, is the how and why I have been in Washington state for two months. Now for the lists of things I’ve experienced and learned that I think will be valuable for other disabled people contemplating a move to a different state. *Disclaimer: The following experiences have been my own and may not be the same for every state and/or every person with a disability.

Moving state when you live on disability

• Transferring your benefits is nerve wracking and scary, especially if you have a chronic condition like I do.

You can’t have benefits in two different states, but you’re limited as to how long you can be out of the state where you have current benefits. In other words, if you have an emergency situation, your hospital is covered by Medicare, but any medications are covered by your state, in my case AZ. I had a bout of diverticulitis after being here two weeks, Medicare covered my hospital but my medications weren’t covered. While I was recovering and sick from antibiotics, I was helping the hospital via the phone to get my AZ insurance stuff settled.

Rule of thumb: as far as I can tell Medicare is national and follows you. Medicaid is by state.

• Refill your medications before you go, and try to have more than a month on you.

Luckily, I was able to get three months of my meds before i left Tucson, all but my MS medication Gilenya. That’s been another scary thing, since I knew I’d be between insurance coverage. Luckily, I can get Gilenya straight from the pharma company temporarily until I get my insurance stuff settled, which is still a work in progress but will take a second post to explain. Maybe next Sunday ha!

• Do all this insurance research stuff before you leave your state.

I did not. Everything was happening so fast before I left Tucson, that figuring out benefits wasn’t high on my to do list. I thought, how different can it be? Mistake. Big mistake. Don’t assume anything. Medicare and your Social Security benefits are the only things that stay the same, but the majority of your day-to-day medical care, like doctors appointments, medications, and medical tests are covered by your new state’s Medicaid and those programs are vastly different. Luckily I now have Washington state benefits and the application process was much less of a headache than it was in Arizona, that’s for sure. But, their program is much, much more confusing than AZ.

* Be prepared for stress as you learn your new benefits plan.

Because I was honest about the chunk of my inheritance from Gamma I get every month, and because I can’t pay David rent lest his benefits get affected, I am not considered medically needy, which means I have a deductible of $3,400. Which resets every six months. I need to keep track of all my medical receipts and submit them to Medicaid every six months to prove I’ve met the deductible, or spend down as they call it. This means my Gilenya would need to be paid for out of pocket before the spend down is met. Thank God the Pharma company is helping, because I cannot miss a dose, and I don’t have $1,200 laying around every month.

• You’ll need a credit card.

I should say that all this is just one person’s experience, so don’t take what I write here as fact for everyone in every state with every disability. I could have done all this with no credit card, had I had plenty of time to get everything arranged, but I needed to put my stuff in storage and had no credit card. I don’t know what people do who don’t have a good support system, I really don’t. I’m also pretty scared about what’s going to happen with my medical stuff with no credit card and this spend down thing, but luckily there’s an agency here whose primary purpose is to help the disabled navigate the system. It’s called the Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement (WAHA), and they helped me feel a little better about how I’m going to handle things.

• Take plenty of time to plan a move to a different state.

That’s my advice to anyone on benefits due to their disability. Give yourself plenty of time if possible. Moving is expensive for anyone, and when you have to worry about your benefits, the whole thing gets very overwhelming. Disabled housing takes years to get, so you’ll need to have a place to stay where you’re welcome for an extended period of time. If your temporary address is with another person on benefits, be aware that your presence might very much affect their benefits, which will affect yours since you won’t be considered to have shelter expenses.

Those bullet points are the things I can think of today that other folks on benefits might benefit (haha) from knowing before a big move. The most disheartening thing about all this has been feeling like I’m not supposed to fall in love with a blind guy. I’ve known that benefits are not family friendly, and now I really know it. I feel like, oh you’re disabled? Oh we forgot to tell you that you don’t have the freedom to pick up and move where you like, or to fall in love with who you like. I’ll be applying for disabled housing since combining incomes when you’re on benefits just does not work. How lovely.

and for Heaven’s sake, if you get a little extra from a family inheritance, be prepared for it to hinder more than help. Do I use it to buy the things I need for life in a cold climate that’s good for my health, or to pay my medical bills I’ll wrack up thanks to my health? My dad said, honesty is the best policy, unless it isn’t.

I wanted to end this post with more entertaining facts about my move, but I’m feeling rather mentally unstable today. Writing fun stuff would probably help, but I’m so tired after writing the frustrating stuff. I suppose this is motivation to write again soon, eh? I realized today that I’ve neglected the blog so much because I wasn’t living life. Now that I’ve moved, I’m living again! I know I was meant to move here, know it with all my being and I won’t let all the red tape kill my happiness. Not totally anyway. I need to have days like today to remind myself of how good I have it.

My next post will include pointers for moving from a hot climate to a cold one, and a story about a drone that nearly drove my dog insane.

***Parting thoughts: If your poop bag malfunctions first thing on Sunday morning, be prepared to have a shitty day.***

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Filed under accomplishment, family, fellowship, Gamma, gratitude, humor as coping skill, Jayden, transitioning

Accidental Olive Oil

A total lifestyle change can mean many things. It can mean no more drinking alcohol or caffeine, the cessation of smoking cigarettes, getting plenty of rest, adopting frequent exercise, or changing ones eating habits for the better. I’ve now done all of these. Except stopping caffeine. Coffee is my last vice. Nothing could make me give it up. Well, unless it threatened to kill me, I suppose. *Twitch*

Something I’ve learned about myself in my late thirties, is that I dearly enjoy living. In January after some physical symptoms I was having stumped my neurologist he sent me to my primary care physician, who decided to check my electrolyte and iron levels, and added a cholesterol test to my blood work as an afterthought. A few days later, I received a letter informing me that my cholesterol was high and my doctor recommended meds. I had a decision to make. I did not want more medication.

High cholesterol was most likely not what caused the symptoms I was having in December. My PCP narrowed it down to seasonal changes and needing more water. the more water thing flummoxed me since, other than black coffee, water is all I drink. But, turned out I needed more. I’m grateful my doctor added that last minute cholesterol test that day. She’s thorough like that and that’s why I love her.

When I received that letter, I made an appointment with her to discuss my options.. I wallowed for a week, eating everything I knew was bad, and then I hit the internet and taught myself about cholesterol and how to lower it with diet. I decided I would do it naturally because I did not want more medication. I’m on enough, thank you very much.

What I learned was that everything converts to fat. Duh, right? But that there are good fats and bad fats and hiding fats and hiding sugar which converts to fat and packaging labels lie and cholesterol raising ingredients are everywhere and man, it’s a dangerous world.

So basically, if I wanted to stay away from more medication, I would need to prepare all my food from scratch. Well, I told myself, here’s the push you need to finally begin preparing your own food.

I’d known for awhile that this had to happen, that the way I was eating was terribly unhealthy, like Frozen dinners (even those referring to choices that are healthy or cuisines that are lean) or fast food burgers that B picked up on the way home from work,yum. I would try and order the healthier items when we’d do take-out from restaurants, *cough* labels lie, but I was fooling myself, desiring the easy way out.

You know that phrase, nothing worth doing is easy?

In the weeks leading up to my doctor appointment, I began eating foods I prepared. I had a left over box of pasta in the cabinet so I would sauté fresh veggies and toss them with olive oil and pasta. I changed my frosted mini wheats for Quaker Old Fashioned Oats. None of that quick, packaged stuff with the yummy fruit. Remember those hidden sugars? Nothing processed for me, baby. I switched to 1% milk for my oatmeal and added raisins and honey. I made fruit salads with apples and grapes in non-fat, plain Greek yogurt for lunch. When I went back to my doctor I had lost seven pounds in two weeks.

I told her all the dietary changes I had made. I explained about exercising on week days. She congratulated me on the weight loss and said what I was doing was working. No pasta though. That converts to sugar which converts to fat and up goes your cholesterol. She said I could have a side of pasta sometimes. Who wants to put in the work of boiling pasta for a side dish though? Not this girl. I finished the box of pasta and bought no more.

My doctor was concerned that nothing I had mentioned included protein, so I added chicken to my list of things to learn to cook as well as beans. I now make hummus from scratch. I make it so from scratch in fact, that I buy five pound bags of raw chickpeas, soak them, and boil them. I want to know exactly what is in my food. I don’t trust those lying labels any more than I trust a lot of lawyers. This is my health, and if I’m going so far as to not take a drug that many people take and trust, I’m going to be serious about lowering my cholesterol another way.

*Cough* Except for dinner on weekends. Hey, a girl needs french fries sometimes.

Is this where olive oil comes in? Not yet. Well sort of. We are at the part of the post that involves olive oil, yes. Just not french fries.

Another thing I’ve changed about my life, is the addition of podcasts. I read something somewhere about podcasts being an excellent source for story ideas and examples of dialogue. That was my intention when I began listening to podcasts, to jot down dialogue ticks from listening to real people speak, and to add to my well of ideas. Who knew that learning more about the world would be so rewarding? That has been a welcome side effect.

My weekday routine now includes listening to NPR’s Fresh Air every morning while I prepare and eat my oatmeal, make the bed, and clean my teeth. Yesterday, I had to fast before going to get my blood drawn. It was the first check of my cholesterol since the lifestyle change. I’ll get the results next week. Hash tag fingers crossed. (I wrote out the words hash tag because I’ve taken to saying them when I speak, in case you were wondering, which you probably weren’t.)

Since I didn’t eat my oatmeal for breakfast yesterday, I didn’t listen to Fresh Air, so I listened to it today while I prepared my oatmeal. Every day while it’s cooking I grind beans for a cup of coffee and grab my agave nectar, almonds, and Greek yogurt. I cook raisins in with the oatmeal so they’re nice and plump, and doctor the mixture when it’s done nuking.

When I pulled the yogurt out of the fridge, the container felt as though there were liquid in it. I knew I was running low since tomorrow is grocery day, and sometimes yogurt gets a bit liquidy. (My Mac is telling me that liquidy is not a word, but on my blog, it is.)

the microwave beeped and, like always, I added a spoon full of yogurt to the hot oats. My attention was drawn away from the episode of fresh air when the spoon didn’t feel nearly as heavy as it usually does when full of Greek yogurt. I shrugged and tipped the spoon over the bowl.

It was then that I thought about the old Greek yogurt container in which I keep my olive oil, in the cabinet. I keep my oil this way so that I can ladle it out with my aluminum measuring spoons, bent in such a way that they are miniature ladles. I was taught this technique by a rehab counselor when i was newly blind. I’d pour my liquids into a cup, ladle the needed amount with the measuring spoon, then use a funnel to pour the liquid back into its container. Oil is such a mess though, that I simply keep it in a yogurt container I can easily ladle out of. I keep salt in an old butter container. Cinnamon, too. Just level off with the flat edge of a butter knife.

Luckily only one spoonful of olive oil made it into my oatmeal. I added my two spoonfuls of Greek yogurt and a handful of almonds, stirred it all up, and prayed. I could taste the olive oil, but just barely. I bet anyone who didn’t know it was there, wouldn’t taste it. I thought hmmm, if I ever need to add even more olive oil to my diet than I already eat, I can just add a spoonful to my oatmeal.

How the olive oil got into the refrigerator right in front of where I keep the Greek yogurt, I’ll never know. It’s kinda like the day after my Y2K party, when I found the milk on the counter, and the scissors in the fridge. Only these days, I’m completely sober.

If I have any readers left after my unintentional hiatus, tell me, should I tell the story of setting my pants on fire while cooking chickpeas?

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Filed under blind blunders, blind tips, coffeeholic, doc, gratitude, humor as coping skill, num num food

Ro Goes to florida 2016

So, back in 2014, the Tampa Bay Rays family on Twitter decided it was going to get me to St. Petersburg for the opening series of the season. This involved fundraising via Paypal to raise the money for my flights and hotel, as well as game tickets and food. The Rays got wind of this and donated a suite for three games, so tickets were covered. Sweet! the rest of the trip was completely funded by cash donations. How freaking cool is that? All those strangers new how much I love the team, and that since I was on a fixed income thanks to my disabilities, I’d never be able to afford to attend games in St. Petersburg at Tropicana Field. So they made it happen. You can read about the donations and stuff here, and about the trip through the #RoToTrop category on my blog.

Just before the idea for that trip came to fruition, I fell in love with singer Josh Groban, @JoshGroban thanks to William Shatner, @WilliamShatner, constantly tweeting a love fest about the guy. I looked Josh Groban up on iTunes one night out of annoyance at Shatner and his man crush, and holy wow OMG Josh Groban wow oh this music holy crap let me just buy this album and that one and that one and I followed him on twitter and stalked him er I mean his timeline and fell absolutely and totally head over heals in love. He’s pretty much the only one on my freebie card now, though, unlike Ross Gellar’s, mine is not laminated.

Ok so what do my trip to Florida to see the Rays back in ’14, and my slight obsession with Josh Groban have to do with one another?

My friend Professor Twain, @PRTwain tweeted me one day last year to inform me that my Josh, I mean, that Josh Groban will be performing in Clearwater, FL on March 1, right as the Rays begin Spring Training.

A plan was born.

A generous Rays family member donated frequent flyer miles. My flights are booked.

Another generous Rays family member donated hotel points in clearwater. Those hotel nights are booked.

Another generous Rays family member donated hotel points for my stay in Port Charlotte for spring training games. those nights are booked.

another generous Rays family member donated two concert tickets for me to see my Josh groban, dangit, for me to see, ahem, Josh Groban on March 1.

pardon me while I scream.

All that was taken care of within two days of us announcing the trip on Twitter. Two days. It’s amazing how much happens when so many people love a person. I still, even after that first trip, am astounded that the person all these people love is me.

thank you. thank you, a thousand times thank you. My friends and followers know my life isn’t a cake walk but, though I’m blind, I always see the silver linings. These people are such a radiant silver lining, they shine like the brightest of stars.

We’re still raising money via my Paypal page using my email, raynaadi @ gmail . com

We raised enough that first day for me to be able to reimburse the person who donated hotel points, but who had to pay cash for the last night since he was out of points. That’s quite a bit of money. So amazing right? A Rays family member bought two seats each at two games in Port Charlotte and one in Ft. Myers, just in case they sold out. I’m hoping to be able to reimburse this person with further donations.

*Squeak* Josh Groban just shuffled in, singing Bring Him Home from Les Miserables and I get to hear him sing it in person! OH MY!

Anyway, so we raised $270 right after we announced the trip and I reimbursed #200 of that, so my current donations tally is $70.

I’d like to reimburse monies for the game tickets, which totaled $210,and cash for meals, checked baggage and tips for airport assistants would help. Did you know people at airports who assist the disabled work on tips?

Itinerary and Logistics

I’ll be flying from tucson to Tampa on Monday, February 29. When i told my friend yesterday that I feel like flying on leap year day might make me end up in an alternate dimension, he accused me of reading too much. guilty as charged. I’ve got a ride from the airport to the hotel covered.

Tuesday, March 1 – I’ll have time for visiting in the Tampa area before the Josh Groban concert. We’ve kicked around the idea on Twitter to have lunch at Evan Longoria’s restaurant, Ducky’s. I figure that would be a great place to congregate and hang out. March 1 is the only time I’ll have available in the Tampa St. Pete area. Transportation is needed.

Wednesday, March 2 – It’s down to Port Charlotte and the Rays spring training facility. Woo! I’ve got that trip covered. Who’s going to the game? It’s Nationals at Rays at 1pm. Let’s meet up! Maybe dinner after?

Thursday, March 3 – Baltimore at Rays 1pm. this game is not covered. I’m staying in Port Charlotte, so I just need a buddy to attend the game with, maybe grab dinner, and a ride back to the hotel.

Friday, March 4 – Rays at Boston in Fort Myers at 1pm. This game is also not covered. I’ll need a ride from Port Charlotte and back.

Saturday, March 5 – Rays at Baltimore in Sarasota at 7pm. This game is covered. Who else is going?

Sunday, March 6 – I fly back home. Awww. I need a ride from Port Charlotte to the Tampa Airport. My flight leaves at 4pm so I should probably be at the airport between 2pm and 2:30pm. ***This ride is covered as of a few hours of posting this!***

So, there it is. If you’re interested in helping with transportation, contact me on Twitter@Raynaadi. Any vehicle I ride in must have air conditioning. I swear I’m not picky, but my MS makes me sick if I get over heated. I will also have my yellow lab guide dog with me and he’s trained to ride in the foot well of the front passenger seat between my feet. If you don’t want a dog in your car, it’s probably best not to volunteer for transportation. Also, I’ll only get in the car with people I’ve talked with on Twitter, and who others I know have met in person at games. Lastly, I won’t get in a vehicle if the driver has had any alcohol. It’s not just me i’ve gotta worry about, but my guide dog too.

We can do this, right? I’m so excited and grateful! Wow!

I’ll update this post with the donations tally as well as keep track of transportation volunteers. I can’t wait to hang out with my florida family again!

~*Meeting the person who started it all*~

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Filed under baseball, evan longoria, family, fellowship, gratitude, Jayden, leap year, music, spoons, twitter me this, wow

December’s Audio Books Et Cetera

I’m fighting a migraine and it’s my birthday (12/30) as I write this and I’m waiting for my requested birthday dinner of 5 Guys, Burgers and Fries but my stomach is a little queasy from the migraine so no fair. December has not been kind to me. I’ve got a mystery bug that sent me in a panic to the neurologist after I almost passed out on stage while singing in the Tucson Girls Chorus 30th Anniversary concert. I thought for sure my MS was in one hell of a relapse but my MRI was clean, so the neuro tested me for an evil virus which I was sure I was dying from but that came back negative so the neuro sent me to my primary care doc and turned the mystery over to her. I see her next month. the neuro thinks I’ve got a bug that’s exacerbating normal MS symptoms like fatigue and dizziness. I get super breathless and light headed with the slightest of elevation changes. I’ll have a day of feeling better and then the next day I’m back to square one. Sitting in a normal chair is difficult since I feel like I’m going to topple out of it. I worked on my novel in the first part of the month after taking a week to recover from NaNoWriMo, then this bug hit and I’ve been useless. That’s about all I’m going to say on that right now since I’m fighting a depression that would love to grab hold while I’m weak so let’s move on to books, shall we? Oh, I checked my stat counter today to give me the motivation to care about this post and you’re still reading, so I’ll keep writing. comment sometimes, will ya? I’m fragile. tee hee. A ear end book recap/top ten list is coming at the beginning of next year.

*Seven books this month*

106. “The Twelve: A Novel” (The Passage Trilogy book 2) by Justin Cronin – narrated by Scott Brick

finished December 31

Ok so I really don’t think I’ll be finished with this on December 31 but it’ll be damn close and it’s a long book, as was the first book in this trilogy, so I’m counting it since I’m over half finished as of today, the 30th. Book two has been so much better than book one, which was good but very draggy. Lots of blood. Lots and lots of blood. Not quite your typical post apocalyptic. The third book is out next year and I’ll definitely read it to see how the trilogy concludes. And, Scott Brick. Need I say more?

Ok now I’m writing this on December 31 and last night the book started having an X-Files feel. Oooooh! Government conspiracy in the apocalypse? yes please!

Ok so it’s December 31 and I’ll be finishing this book tonight. I haven’t been able to put it down all day.

@jccronin

105. “The Passage” (The Passage Trilogy book 1) by Justin Cronin – narrated by Scott Brick, link Adenrele Ojo and link Abby Craden

Finished December 26

After I tied Ricardo up and made him read my favorite zombie trilogy back-to-back, he told me about this series, narrated by Scott Brick so I decided to read it since it’s Scott Brick and I kinda felt bad for abusively forcing Ricardo into that zombie series even though he did like it.

‘passage’ was good but after the first part, I was very angry and I can’t say why because spoilers but the book redeemed itself and I stopped being angry. Ricardo said he liked the second book better and I have to agree. This book was super laggy with navel gazing, a publishing term I just learned from my friend Lauren which means talking about stuff that doesn’t matter. On and on some passages (hey, passages, the Passage har har) went. Just get on with it, I thought often. It was a good book though. Very reminiscent of Stephen King’s “The Stand” but with a lot more blood. A lot.

The two female narrators read brief segments, the second of which being diary entries. As a warning to the listener, Scott Brick interrupts the second woman with things like, missing pages or illegible, and it made me jump to hear his voice suddenly haha.

good book, but there were times I wanted to skip through or just stop reading all together. Be patient, and I don’t think you’ll be sorry if you like bloody post apocalyptic thrillers.

104. “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” (Daughter of Smoke and Bone book 1) by Laini Taylor – narrated by Khristine Hvam

Finished December 17

I put off reading the Justin Cronin books because my friend Lauren wanted me to read this with her and would you believe it, she kept stopping reading it? I mean, my goodness. She’s reading it again now though which is good since I can’t wait to talk about it.

This book reminded me a lot of Diana Rowland’s kara Gillian series, but for young adults. It has an awesome fantasy element, angels and demons in an urban setting, with portals into other places. Oh and the protagonist has bright blue hair and tattoos. What’s not to love? the writing is absolutely exquisite, with passages that made my breath catch in my chest they were so hauntingly beautiful. then in the next breath, the characters would do something funny. It’s the perfect balance of beauty, humor, magic, world building and character development. I can’t wait for the next two books, which I bought with iTunes gift cards my uncle and aunt gave me for Christmas and my birthday. Weee!

Just wait until you find out what the wishbone is for…oh and the teeth…

This book is the closest to my novel that I’ve read since I began writing it back in November, well except for the achingly beautiful prose which mine doesn’t have yet in this first draft. Muahhaha!

@lainitaylor

103. “Champion” (Legend book 3) by Marie Lu – narrated by Steven Kaplan and Mariel Stern

Finished December 14

What an excellent trilogy! Bleak dystopia, heart breaking romance, awesome narration and the most epic fighter jet scene I think I’ve ever read in a book. Highly, highly recommend this trilogy if you like YA.

102. “Prodigy” (Legend book 2) by Marie Lu – narrated by Steven Kaplan and Mariel Stern

Finished December 10

Wait, the epic fighter jet scene, that was in this book, not book three. Why, why do I not write stuff about these books right as I finish them? I seem to remember at least jotting down notes. My brain this month, blame my brain.

I think all I’ve got is so good, go read, so good haha. click the links I provide to Audible and read about the books there, what do you think I am, a publisher’s summary blog? Haha! Ok I think I need dinner. Loopy much? Books? What? Oh right, books. I think the first book in this trilogy is in November’s book post.

101. “Kill Shot” (Icarus book 1) by Aria Michaels – narrated by Rhiannon Angell

finished December 9

This was a daily deal and I wish Kate Rudd had narrated. It screamed for her voice. the narrator was ok but there were two characters she did super high pitched that made my brain throb.

It was an entertaining read, though several times i found myself thinking, was this book self published? There was a glaring error of continuity at one point, where these teenagers are hunkered down in the basement of the high school after this solar flare causes all hell to break loose, and they’re in the basement for days. When the protagonist has to venture out she thinks to herself how different everything looks from when they walked to school that morning. *record scratching sound* Nooooo, back up and read what you wrote. Didn’t realize they’d be in the basement that long or something?

turns out the novel was self published. the reviews on the book are from people who were asked to review the book by the narrator. It all makes sense. I’ve got nothing against self publishing, but I’d like to see this book and the sequel get a traditional publisher and professional editors. Just a good polishing and this book would shine.

Ooooh, I did jot a one word note on this book: anyways. The characters kept saying it and that word is one of my pet peeves. Also, everyone kept saying the protagonist’s name. How are you feeling, name? How’s the weather, name? Name, what should we do now? And not her full name. Her nickname. It got so old! I still enjoyed the book though; I can’t lie.

@AriaMichaelsYA

100. “A Dangerous Fortune” by Ken Follett – narrated by Michael Page

Finished December 5

Ken Follett at his best, wow. This was such a good book. This book takes us into the inner workings of the banking world of the late 1800’s. It shows what happens when families have too much power and will do anything, anything, to keep it. Ricardo recommended this book and I could not put it down. Excellent!

***

Happy New Year and happy wedding day to Evan Longoria!

@Evan3Longoria Anyone who says they weren’t nervous on their wedding day is a liar! It’s a great kind of nervous! Excited to see my bride @jaimeedmondson. from Twitter for iPhone Dec 31, 2015, 12:07:17 PM

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Filed under 2015 Monthly Audio Book Lists, Audio books, birthday, Choir, doc, evan longoria, family, gratitude, humor as coping skill, iTunes, new year, rambles, spoons, twitter me this, writing

October’s Audio books and NaNoWriMo

So I was having a Twitter conversation with Lauren DeStefano and she mentioned that one of her characters in her Internment Chronicles books, has a brother who is blind. She didn’t give me many details about him and I decided I needed to read those books. So what does Lauren DeStefano do? Offers to mail me her audio book copy of the book! Of course I said no. Wait what? No of course I didn’t say no, in fact I asked her to sign the cover of the audio book. I’ve often wondered what I would do if I had the chance to go to a book signing. Ask the author to sign my iPhone? She told me the book was wrapped in black tissue paper to protect it. She wanted to make sure I knew it was just black tissue paper and I wasn’t missing any designs. I wondered why an audio book would need to be protected but whatevs.

So maybe a week later, I got an envelope with not one, but two audio books inside! Grinning, I opened the envelope and took out the books. The CD booklet didn’t feel smooth as I took off the tissue paper. Hmmm.

Lauren DeStefano signed the cases with puff paint!

I won’t lie. A lump formed in my throat. She thought of everything!

In other news, I’m officially doing National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this year. The novel writing finally begins Sunday!(Sunday Sunday Sunday!) The story’s working title is ‘Vivian and the King’. Months ago my cat, Timmy, inspired an idea and I began brainstorming. I fell in love pretty quickly and so decided I would develop the story for NanOWriMo and do it for realsies this year. When I first heard about it in 2010, it was already mid November so I didn’t sign up or anything, just decided to see how much I could write before November ended. a story was developed, characters created, chapters written. That novel, with working title ‘Yellow’, has been a practice novel for me over the years ever since. I still plan to finish the first draft one day.

My goal is to finish ‘Vivian and the King’ and then revise it, polish it, begin querying agents with it. I’ve been marinating on this idea ever since Timmy inspired it. I have pages of notes, an outline, tons of bookmarks on ancient Egytp and finally named the cat in the novel. I am so ready to go! I even went and met local writers. In person. People, in person. Wow.

So I won’t be doing NaBloPoMo this year for the first time since 2009, which is kind of bitter sweet since it’s nice to have those daily posts from Novembers of years past. But, this is my dream we’re talking about here, and my dream is to be a published author, so I think I can let go of NaBloPoMo this year. Who knows when I’ll post here in December with November’s book post. I work on these posts all through the month and I’ll be just slightly busy in November. I’ll also be working on my second review for Disability in Kid Lit. I’ll be getting my review copy soon. busy bee! I’m kind of ridiculously happy lately!

Oh, forgot to mention that the character of Vivian was inspired by my friend’s daughter, who I get to hang out with for Halloween. I’m super psyched about the opportunity to talk to her about some things that will feature in the novel. Love my life right now! *knock on wood*

*Ten books this month*

88. “The Traveler” (The fourth Realm book 1) by John Twelve Hawks – narrated by Scott Brick

Finished October 31

A masterfully written novel about a group of people who call themselves harlequins who protect people called travelers who can bounce around between dimensions, pursued by people who want to tap the traveling power and link it with a super computer in order to better control the human race, narrated by Scott Brick? Yes please. I’ll even forgive Mr. Brick for pronouncing saguaro sag-war-o.

Oh man, what an amazing book. Twelve Hawks can write, I mean he can freaking write. Wow. I feel like i’m in a master class with this series. the characters are all three dimensional and believable. The action? wow. I’ve found that long action scenes in novels tend to let my mind wander. Not in ‘Traveler’. I imagined every punch, every swerve of a vehicle, every sword slash.

There’s this community of people who go live off the grid, and it’s eerily similar to the town I’ve invented for Yellow, except they definitely don’t live off the grid haha. I can’t help but smile when I see something similar to something I’ve invented, in published novels. That used to make me panic, the thought that something has already been done. but now I know to write it anyway. Only I can tell the story in my head, and everything has already been done. It’s a fact.

I definitely recommend this series. What a book. Wow. Thanks Ricardo!

Big Brother is watching and he’s armed with a quantum computer. *Shiver*

@John12Hawks

87. “Afterworlds” by Scott Westerfeld narrated by Sheetal Sheth and Heather Lind

Finished October 28

I read this book again in preparation for NaNoWriMo. The book came out this time last year and I read it then, but there’s no book post from that first reading. I read it back-to-back twice last year, its’ that good.

Darcy Patel participates in NaNoWriMo while she’s a senior in high school. “Afterworlds” opens describing how Darcy wrote to (queried) an agent, got signed and got a book deal. Lucky girl! She decides to move to New York city to be near publishing while she does rewrites on her book and begins work on the second novel of her two book deal. We follow Darcy on her journey as she falls in love, works on her career and eats noodles-lots and lots of noodles. I highly recommend having Ramen on hand.

Every other chapter is Darcy’s novel, “Afterworlds” We get to read what has become Darcey’s polished novel, watching as the two stories parallel one another. In Darcey’s ‘Afterworlds’, Lizzie Scofield plays dead to survive a terrorist attack and finds that she can travel to the flip side, where ghosts live. She meets a death god and a child ghost who’s been haunting Lizzie’s mother since she was herself a child. Darcey weaves a tale about Lizzie’s adjustment to life as a new psycho pomp, spirit guide, reaper. shine.

I loved this book the first two times I read it and even more now that I know about the publishing process in greater detail. If I wasn’t excited about my baby novel being born on Sunday before, you can bet i am now. I can’t wait!

@ScottWesterfeld

86. “Burning Kingdoms” (Internment Chronicles book 2) by Lauren DeStefano – narrated by Laura Knight Keating

finished October 26

For book one, skip to the next heading.

What a culture shock book two is! first, let me say that I think book two is cursed. None of the tracks on the CD were labeled so when I imported them and used Audio Book Binder on them, the tracks scrambled. Of course I didn’t notice this until I started reading, at night, all snuggled in bed. It took an entire day the next day to copy the tracks again and make sure they were all labeled properly. Cursed I tell you. Oh! See I knew there was something else that caused me to think the book is cursed. With about two hours to go one night, the book just stopped playing. I could tell the iPad was still on since I could see the light from it. It was plugged in. It wouldn’t speak. No amount of restarting it worked. Siri wouldn’t even talk. the next day, I plugged it into iTunes and it’s like yeah, this iPad has a problem. Maybe updating it will fix it, or else you’ll need to restore. Luckily the update fixed it so maybe the book isn’t totally cursed.

I don’t want to say too much about this second book since really saying anything will spoil the ending of the first one, as I discovered when I accidentally read the first sentence of the publisher’s summary at Audible. I’ll just say I didn’t like it as much as I did the first one. We get to know one of the characters better, which is nice. This book just sort of felt like a place holder between books one and three. I have high hopes for book three, though. It’s out next year. tick tock.

@LaurenDeStefano

85.“Perfect Ruin” (Internment Chronicles book 1) by Lauren Destefano – narrated by Laura Knight Keating

Finished October 22

What an interesting concept. Internment is a floating city, ripped from the Earth as a punishment. I totally imagined Dark city, the movie. The city is ruled by a king, and regulations are strict. Births are limited and planned, and babies are betrothed at birth. given glass betrothal bands, children wear them around the neck until the ring fits on the finger. At the time of the couple’s wedding, the glass is filled with the blood of their partner. Angelina and Billy bob much? The edge of Internment is surrounded by a fence and gale force winds, and if Internment’s residents get too close, they risk going insane. Jump off the edge, and one will be hurled back over and left with physical damage.

Morgan Stockhour’s brother Lex, is one of the jumpers, and was blinded as a result. He has an interesting contraption with which he dictates novels. He is completely dependent on his family, which shows what it might be like to lose one’s sight in a dystopian setting. Lex can no longer remember what shapes look like and he’s only been blind for three years. Not quite accurate, but hey, maybe the jumping attempt left his brain a bit addled too. Seriously though, I did roll my eyes a bit at some of Lex’s life, like how he constantly knocks over his wife’s vases of flowers. Is he just incapable of adjusting to life with blindness? Though, I do knock my own stuff over from time to time…

Lex is a side character. The main story is the brutal murder of a teenaged girl and her betrothed subsequent arrest for it. Morgan starts to understand that her life on Internment is much more complicated than she thought, and for the first time in her life, she begins to feel fear. She starts to understand why lex was so curious about the edge. what might life be like on the ground?

Once this book had its hooks in, it didn’t let go. I had to know what would happen next. It’s a quiet story. I don’t know how else to describe it. the city of Internment is so slow and sleepy but there’s this underlying tension that builds to a plummeting conclusion.

I recommend if you’re a fan of YA dystopia. It was definitely and entertaining read. Laura Knight Keating does a nice job, though Lauren DeStefano did tell me that the character name of Basil is pronounced like the spice. the narrator, and my screen reader, pronounce it differently, like the Greek name.

84. “Zeroes” by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti – narrated by Amber Benson

Finished October 20

Note I took just after starting:I had no idea there was a blind character in this book until a couple days ago, when Scott Westerfeld retweeted a tweet about it. I cringed inside, wondering how badly the authors were going to screw up blind. But, I just met the blind character and so far, aside from the bright dress she’s wearing for visibility, she’s spot on. I’m guessing the dress is the product of an overprotective parent. end note.

Actually, after reading some more, her bright dresses are explained. It’s part of her power. You see, all the teens in “Zeroes” have a power. they aren’t quite super heroes; they call themselves Zeroes.

Flicker is the blind girl but her power isn’t enhanced by her blindness. There’s a lot of complaints in the disability in literature crowd about disabilities being cured in fiction, or turning into a power. Now I understand why my friend Chupa hated the movie Powder so much. Flicker’s power is freaking awesome and I want it and I want to be her for Halloween. Except she uses a white cane and not a guide dog. sometimes she doesn’t even need her mobility tool, but you have to read the book to find out why. It’s so freaking cool! And Westerfeld and his writing partners nailed the blind aspect of the character. I talked with him on Twitter about it, and he said they spoke with a blind teenager. See? That’s how you write diversity. Anyway.

Other characters in the novel are Crash, who crashes electronics, Mob, who effects crowds, Scam, who has an inner voice that is all knowing and can take control of a situation with his charm, Anonymous, who literally hides in plain sight and I can’t remember the last one’s code name. The others called him Fearless Leader because he was the leader of the Zeroes. he also annoyed me for most of the book so maybe that’s why I can’t remember his code name.

Anyway, I freaking loved this book! It’s such a fun twist on superheroes. No one can fly or shoot webs from their wrist or wait, what exactly does Batman do? Fight evil with his money? I’m not usually a big superhero fan. Zeroes though? Hell yeah. And there’s two more books coming!

The narrator was incredible. She voiced each character in awesome, unique ways. She brought the story to life. the male characters weren’t even annoying, as they often are when voiced by women.

@ScottWesterfeld
@deborah_b
@margolanagan

83. “Apex” (Nexus book 3) by Ramez Naam – narrated by Stephanie Canon

Finished October 17

when is this book going to end OMG make it stop. last night I sped up the speech rate and it helped a little bit with the terrible narrating, and should make the end of the book come faster. The narrating, oh holy hell it’s bad. It’s not terrible until she mispronounces a word or has to read a Chinese character. They really should have gotten the actress who played Mrs. Swan in Mad TV to read this book. I new I should have taken note of the word Canon mispronounced so egregiously last night. Damn what was it. I think I have about six hours left. Make it stop, just make it stop. Why am I not giving up on this book? I guess I care about a few of the characters enough to keep going.

Last night I was thinking about this post in progress as I listened to the book. I follow a lot of writerly accounts on twitter and one of them posted an article about things not to do in your prose. I won’t mention one of the things mentioned in that article here, because Naam does it all the time in this book and it’s so distracting to me because it’s something I never would have thought of until a writerly type pointed it out and now I can’t stop analyzing it every time Naam does it, which is a lot. I’m guessing that might be part of why I can’t just get immersed in the story and ignore the bad narrating. If a writerly type happens to read this post, did my run-on just drive you nuts? I’m a fan of those.

Finally finished it last night. There was so much filler, unnecessary filler. We’re taken from our main characters too much, over to this side story in China with characters that came out of nowhere in this book and who are Chinese so we get treated to Canon’s awful Chinese accent. When we would finally get back to the main characters, I’d start to get in to the story again, only to be ripped out and taken to China again.

This series was interesting, set in the future where a drug links minds. It’s cool but terrifying. I recommend the series if you’re a scifi fan, but do this third book on Kindle or something. the narrating really destroys it, at least it did for me. Maybe the secondary story wouldn’t have been so annoying without the terrible narrator.

@ramez

82. “Furiously Happy: A funny Book About Horrible Things” by Jenny Lawson – narrated by Jenny Lawson

Finished October 11

Oh, how I needed this book. I read her first book back in July of 2012. What! 2012! No way. wow. Where does time go? Seriously. Whoa, Clair Danes just said seriously at the same time I wrote it. b is home on staycation and watching Homeland. Happy birthday B! Anyway, what was I writing about? Oh right, “furiously Happy’.

I realized while I was listening to Jenny’s voice read her words to me, that since I’ve made the decision to get serious about my writing, part of my personality got too serious. Does that make sense? I’ve gotten so serious about learning everything I can about writing and publishing, trying to get my name out there in some way or other, which will happen tomorrow, October 16th, when my first review gets published over at Disability in Kid Lit, that I’ve lost some of my silliness and personality. It’s coming back to me now that I’m upright and walking away from that depression, rather than crawling away, and I’m so grateful for it. I have to thank Jenny lawson for giving me that last push, getting me up off the floor. Thank you, jenny.

In ‘Furiously Happy’, Jenny tells her own stories of depression and anxiety, balanced perfectly with the hilarity that ensues when a mentally ill person decides to be furiously happy. It’s her way of fighting back, of saying f-you to depression and deciding that dammit, if she wants to wear a koala suit in Australia when she meets koala bears, she’s gonna freaking do it. She made the decision to be herself and embrace her damn mental illnesses because the alternative is…well…furiously ugly.

I highly, highly recommend this book for anyone dealing with mental illness or for anyone who’s loved ones are dealing with mental illness, or for anyone who just wants to look inside and see what it’s like to live with mental illness. I related to Jenny soooooo much! My anxiety and depression isn’t as bad as hers but I know it could get that bad and if it does? I’m buying myself a damned stuffed raccoon. yep. No, wait, not a stuffed animal toy raccoon. A taxidermied freaking raccoon. Apple dictionary says taxidermied isn’t a word. Whoa, I’m like a sentence in Jenny’s book.

I want a silver ribbon pin. Jenny, is there a silver ribbon pin? I’ll never remember to pin an actual silver ribbon on but a prefabbed pin? Yeah, I could remember that.

@TheBloggess

81.“White Trash Zombie Gone Wild” (White Trash zombie, book 5) by Diana rowland – narrated by Allison McLemore

Finished October 8

the only bad thing about a new White Trash Zombie book is the need to wait a year for the next one. In this latest installment, our favorite zombie, Angel Crawford, finds herself on her own, her zombie crew all off fixing things elsewhere. Oh right, and there’s also that little problem of her new addiction. Rowland is pretty dang good at writing the whole addiction thing.

so much was going on in this book that I felt my head spinning and thinking, wow too much is going on here. then, with two hours left, I was like how on earth is she gonna unravel the story she’s woven? And she did. the woman can write. and Allison McLemore does a fantastic job as always. I love these books! they have such a positive undertone, they are just plain good for my mental health. If you have an aversion to swearing and brain eating, this series is not for you, though if you expected anything else after reading the titles, I don’t know what to tell ya.

@DianaRowland

80.“White Trash Zombie Apocalypse” (White Trash Zombie book 3) by Diana Rowland – narrated by Allison McLemore

Finished October 6

I had reread White Trash Zombie book four in preparation for book five but didn’t time it right so I decided to read book three since book five wasn’t out for a few more days. That’s the thing about this series for me. It grabs me and doesn’t want to let go. I just enjoy Angel’s company so much that I never want to move on. She’s just a fun chick I could totally imagine having as a real friend, so long as she keeps well fed and doesn’t think my brain smells enticing.

Here’s my post from the first time I read this book. I’m kinda freaking out because I don’t remember that time at all. I read that in this house? in November? Yikes.

I had to laugh when I was perusing some of the reviews on this book. McLemore had a cold and you can totally hear it about halfway through the book. A reviewer said, get this, she has a weak stomach, and it was a challenge listening to the book and the narrator’s cold. I’m like, but the book has scenes with humans cracking skulls and eating brains! Ok, I suppose the reviewer meant she has a weak stomach when it comes to sounds. That must be it, right?

79. “How the White Trash Zombie Got Her Groove Back” (White Trash Zombie book 4) by Diana Rowland – narrated by Allison Mclemore

Finished October 3

I reread this in preparation for book five. There’s no post from when I read it the first time unfortunately. I guess that was from back when I lost control of my book posts and ended up changing the format for all my reviews to this new current one, which has worked so much better for me. I know people are reading the blog since I have stats on that, even though they seldom comment. I’m looking at you, dear reader. I also know that I’ve helped at least one person find books since she lets me know, so Brooke, these posts are for you!

In “Groove Back’, our Angel goes to the big city, NYC, to help rescue some of her tribe who have been kidnapped. It’s hilarious, watching small town Angel, who’s never been farther than Alabama, navigate the subway system. Her goggling at the swanky hotel she gets to stay at reminded me so much of me, especially on my recent trip to Hollywood, where I was afraid to go into the hotel where I just knew I’d stick out like a sore thumb. I was just grateful to have professionally cut and colored hair. I so related to Angel’s money woes and how small she felt next to her friends who seemed to have plenty of the green stuff. Money I mean.

I checked out reviews on this book too and one comment cracked me up, something about how there should be less swearing. Ba ha! Hey, you can take the trash outta the zombie and clean up her beer can paved driveway, but Angel wouldn’t be Angel without her swearing.

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