Category Archives: Jayden

A Cardboard Box Tried To Eat Me

A webinar jinxed me. More specifically, a Can Do Multiple Sclerosis webinar. I found these webinars after David mentioned wanting some ideas for dinners (he’s a great cook), and I went searching for foods good for MS to add into our stir fries.. I certainly never meant to change his diet when I moved here, but he became intrigued with my management of cholesterol without medication, noticing that he felt better physically when he ate the stuff I eat. I have sworn off red meat, sadly. I feel like death warmed over after I eat it. Ah, the joys of getting older. Bye bye bacon.

Ro, I thought this post was about how a webinar jinxed you.

Ok yes, yes. So I listened to the latest one and it was about sleep and MS. These webinars are super informative, reinforcing a lot of the stuff I’ve learned about MS on my own over the years, either online or by adapting stuff to suit my needs. So a lot of it is sort of reeducation I suppose. the webinar mentioned often how important sleep is, which I think most of us know, but they brought up something interesting I hadn’t thought of, which is fall prevention. Of course, if we’re over tired or fatigued, we’re at a greater risk of falling. I’ve done pretty well avoiding falls, even with MS Induced vertigo and blindness. I don’t have a lot of problems with sleep, knock on wood, the biggest one being having a hard time getting back to sleep sometimes after I have to get up and answer nature’s call. They went through an awesome relaxation exercise, and recommended doing that during the night when insomnia hits. As if my body wanted me to practice, I couldn’t fall asleep right away that night after getting up, but unfortunately, I was too sleepy to have the energy to practice the relaxation exercise. Is this a chicken/egg issue? I put my current falling asleep audio book on under my pillow and eventually fell asleep to the dulcet tones of Alan Cumming reading Scott Westerfeld’s LEVIATHAN trilogy. I’m nearly done with the third book for the umpteenth time. I wonder what my next comfort, fall asleep listen will be.

I didn’t feel tired or unrefreshed when I woke up yesterday. We went about our usual lazy Sunday, and when I fed Jayden, I noticed that I’d need to empty dog food from the new bag into his food container. the box from Amazon had been sitting behind my desk for a week. I laid it flat, cut it open, and carried the thirty pound bag into the kitchen, leaving the open box on the floor.

David offered to pour the bag of food into the Vittles Vault but I assured him I’d been doing it for years and had a system, and I do, but after bending over, slowly filling the container to capacity, my back barked at me and I told David that ok, he could do it next time. We had a laugh over Jayden waiting for permission to snatch up the spilled kibble on the floor and I left the kitchen to return my scissors to my desk drawer.

Ok class, who remembers where I had opened the Amazon box containing a thirty pound bag of dog food?

Why do falls seem to happen in slow motion? Remembering it now, I can see myself walking as if in quick sand, my left foot encountering the box on the floor, my hands slowly coming up in front of me, scissors in the left one. I can hear my thoughts, how far am I from the computer? Shit, don’t break the computer, don’t fall into the desk with the computers, where’s Jayden, don’t want to fall on him, oh he’s in the kitchen ok falling falling falling.

the scissors didn’t enter my mind until after the fall was complete. Perhaps the part of my brain that controls my left hand was nice an alert, more so than the short term memory part at least.

I even swore in slow motion. David can vouch for that. He heard the whole thing from the kitchen and said I seemed to fall in steps. “Oh fuck…oh fuck….oh fuck!”

After I landed and took stock, realizing I had landed half inside the box, crushing the other half, I burst out laughing, imagining the scene in Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, where Jim Carey is snooping in the storage closet at the mental hospital and tries to hide in a box. He’s wearing a pink ballet tutu and high top shoes and ends up sprawling out of the box as it gives way around him. I couldn’t stop the hysteria. David came in and bent down to feel my position and after being certain I was ok, gave me a hand to get up. But I discovered that my left leg was folded into the box and I couldn’t stand, so I began laughing even harder and pulled his hand down to show him how I was trapped. He got my leg free and pulled me up and it was then that I noticed the scissors. That could have been very bad.

David asked if I was sure I was ok, because the laughter had sounded like a combination of mirth and pain. I took a physical inventory and sure enough, my left hip was not happy. Upon further reflection, I think the hysterical laughter was a bit of an emotional pop. It’s been a sad couple of months for David and his friends, since one of them has been dying. We received word yesterday that his friend had passed on. I never met him, but feeling the love and sadness from those who knew him, I knew he had been a special person. It’s an odd thing when a death watch is over. You’re filled with sadness with the knowledge that the person you love is dying and then when it’s over, there’s a sense of relief, and then guilt over feeling that relief. None of this was about me, but I felt David’s pain, and had for months, so I think I just sort of popped when I found myself trapped in a cardboard box. Emotions are powerful and strange things.

So, the webinar jinxed me. I obviously don’t believe that, but you know how when someone injures themselves in a really stupid way and their friends are like, you should say you got into a fight with a guy who wouldn’t give up his seat to a pregnant lady or something rather than admit you were playing Pokemon Go and ran into a tree.

Jayden Quirk

Sometimes after feeding and relieving Jayden, I get back into bed for awhile, and other times I get up and sit at my desk. Jayden always goes to his bed after he’s fed and relieved. We only have one dog bed, and we move it back and forth from the bedroom to the spot under my desk where he can be near me. Sometimes I forget to move the bed when I sit at my desk, and this morning, I was reading Twitter when I felt Jayden beside me. “Oh! You want your bed?” I went into the bedroom for it, Jayden trailing behind me. I put it under my desk and he curled up happily. It always warms my heart. It’s the simple things, everyone. Don’t forget to let the simple things make you happy.

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Filed under Amazon, Audio books, blind blunders, funnies, humor as coping skill, Jayden, jayden quirks, spoons, twitter me this

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

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

August’s Audio Books and a Case of Crippling Depression

So can we say wow Ro, you are sure late on August’s post. Ummm, Yeah. I’ll just say I’m grateful I can actually write this today. I am emerging from my worst…depression…EVER. Like, ever. Like, oh please oh please can I never go through depression that bad ever again? Please?It was awful. I’ve narrowed what I think to be the cause down to yet another physical problem with yet another new medication, though there doesn’t have to be a cause for depression. In me, there is typically a cause though. I’ll have what I call minor depressions, where life just gets too overwhelming, especially around money, but they usually pass. This one began as a minor depression, my story wasn’t published though I really felt ok about that, I plunged myself into work on the novel, then I read a book that brought back all my old alcoholic feelings, then a seriously dark and disturbing YA novel, and then the new medication was added and then yet another shooting happened and holy crap what the hell oh man no, stop it, no, go away, make it stop no no no, there’s no hope, life is horrible, humanity is doomed, make it stop. I quit reading the internet. I quit writing, all I wanted to do was read fiction. I even found it hard to care about baseball. then I finally told B all the things that were in my head even though I was scared to, afraid he’d lock me up, but he just listened and let me cry and that, along with not reading the internet, with talking to close friends, finally helped me ease out. It’s getting better by the day and today I was able to finish the first draft of a book review I had promised to others and send it off.

So now I’m working on my own stuff. It’s rainy today. I’m listening to music. The Rays are out of it for this season but they come to Arizona next year so that’s exciting. I spent the day in bed yesterday, just feeling physically “off”, worrying that I was doomed to not be productive yet again this week but today has been good so far. Minute by minute, that’s how I’m taking life at the moment. So, On to August’s books. Grateful I had the presence of mind to keep track of them. And grateful to Jayden for keeping me functioning during that horrible, dark time.

Happy birthday, Taylor!

*four books this month*

66. “Fool’s Quest” (Fitz and the Fool trilogy, book 2)
by Robin Hobb – narrated by Elliot Hill

finished August 31

I love robin Hobb’s Farseer books so dang much! This is her latest book which came out in August. Ricardo and I were both excited to read it and it was fun to complain about this new narrator with him. The way Hill voices the Fool is just plain awful. It definitely detracted from the book for me but at least this second book in the current trilogy was better than the first so that helped. I didn’t want to be done with the book when it was over. It was the absolute perfect escape for me, in fact B even told me to just disappear into it haha. I can’t wait for the third in this trilogy! Hobb’s Twitter said something about 2017 though, so that’s not happy making.

Twitter: @RobinHobb

Two books I walked away from: “The Accidental Alchemist” and “Mort(E)

I think I made it an hour into the alchemist book, bland narrating, or was it the writing with its dangling bits, who knows. Just didn’t care. Good thing it was a daily deal. I wanted something light hearted after ’ember’. Maybe it was a combination of my worsening mental state and the excellent writing it followed. I then tried the Mort book and made it a few days but gave up August 24 with four hours left. I just couldn’t do it. It was sheer freaking torture it was so bad. I blame you, Bronson Pinchot, for normally being so wonderful. Even you sounded bored to tears. I recorded a small segment for Ricardo since he’s also a Pinchot fan. I used to always suffer through bad books to see if they’d be redeemed. Not anymore. If they don’t at least entertain me, that’s it.

65. “An Ember in the Ashes” by Sabaa Tahir – narrated by Fiona Hardingham and Steve West

finished August 18

Holy crap, this book. So dark. So disturbing. So bloody. So good, but glad it’s not at all based in reality or I don’t think I could have handled it, it was so dark. Excellent narration and the book grabs you from the very start, never letting go until it ends, and you’re left wanting more. At least, I was. There’s a sequel and it’s written and hopefully out next year. I highly recommend if you’re a fan of young adult books and even if you aren’t. If you like dark fantasy, this is the book for you. Wow. I mean, wow. What did I say on Twitter? It’s “The Hunger Games” meets “Divergent” meets “The Bone Season”. Don’t say I didn’t warn you though. wow is it dark.

Twitter: @SabaaTahir When she responded to me on Twitter, I was like aaaah scary author, scary author!

64. “Romancing the Dark in the city of Light” by Ann Jacobus – narrated by Apple’s voiceover

finished August 13

the above link is the Goodreads page for this book since it’s not out until early October. I was given an advance review copy since I’m reviewing the book for Disability in Kid Lit. I’ll link to that review once it’s up.

And, here is the review. It was posted October 16 and was a very cool experience. I’ve been asked if there’s an audio book, and currently there isn’t. I have a question in to the author about it.

Twitter: @AnnJacobusSF

63. “Sarum: the Novel of England” by Edward Rutherfurd – narrated by Wanda McCaddon

Finished August 12

Notes I took while reading:

It’s like trying to see an accident scene as you’re driving by on the highway. It’s like oh there’s Bloody Mary oh now she’s gone. The book tries to be character driven but the expanse of time is so vast that by trying to develop characters and stories takes away from historical detail. The balance is off. There’s not enough time to care about characters and not enough detail about history.

End notes.

There were moments of pure fascination and then moments of sheer boredom. After reading Rutherfurd’s New York book, I was expecting exquisite pacing. I think that would be next to impossible with the England book however. It begins with the dawn of man and ends in the, oh crap, I can’t remember when it ended. I was just so relieved it ended. Oops!

I love Wanda McCaddon though. She’s very easy to listen to.

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Filed under 2015 Monthly Audio Book Lists, Audio books, baseball, birthday, fellowship, gratitude, Jayden, mental health, spoons, twitter me this, writing

July’s Audio Books, Jimmy Kimmel and Writing

What an absolutely crazy month July was, let me just get that out of the way ha! Crazy in a very good way. I was successful in submitting my first polished fiction. You can read about that in my last post. I’m waiting to hear back on that. There’s a submissions page where I can go to check on it and it’s just listed as “in progress”. If I remember correctly, the call for submissions said selected authors should know by the end of July. I can’t double-check that since the page has been taken down. so I’m not sure what it means that it’s still listed as “in progress”. At least it’s not listed as “rejected”. ha!

Jayden and I went to LA to a live taping of Jimmy Kimmel life, which was awesome. the guests were Owen Wilson (awesome!), The Bachelorette and her fiance (whatevs) and Juanez, who my friend and I checked out on Apple Music on the road between Indio and LA. Very cool Latin music. He passed us just outside the green room and said my dog is beautiful. Yeah he is. His segment of the show was performed outside. I’m not going into too much detail about this trip on my blog because—

—the afternoon before the Kimmel show I got an email in response to something I submitted months ago that involves non-fiction writing. Paid non-fiction writing. paid! I’m currently working with the person who selected me as one of the new freelance writers and I might be writing about the LA trip so I’m keeping details under wraps for now. The writing thing is really starting to feel real now. It’s kinda nice to write something totally stress free on my own blog ha!

What else about life? I’ll be ramping up research for the Egyptian book I’m going to write for NaNoWriMo. I want to get it all mapped out but I need more information first. I’ve developed a few of the characters which was totally fun. I love developing characters. What else? Oh yes, I mentioned reading a book for a book club and I said I’d include it in with my book post, however I’m going to wait and write about that when I’m done with it. We’re halfway through the book. In fact I need to ask if we should start reading the next half. Ok, on to books!

*7.5 books this month*

62. “Between You and Me: Confessions of Comma Queen” by Mary Norris – narrated by Mary Norris

Finished July 31

One of the authors I follow on Twitter retweeted an article that referenced this book but I can’t remember who tweeted it or where the article was. blame my addled brain this month, which was more addled than normal. This book bloody rocked. That’s all I got. I don’t know if it would interest a person not into words and writing like me, but I just loved this book. Notes I jotted today when nearly finished with it:

Pencils, #1, oh the memories. The way of doing things before computers. the store with all the office supplies and how she loved it. Mom and I in the stationary isle forever, the smell, the possibility. Office Max? Heaven. Her talking about pencils and erasors is freaking awesome. Mom’s mechanical eraser, I had forgotten all about that. Our electric pencil sharpener, I can still picture it.

end notes.

the author narrated which is usually pretty bad. She didn’t do a terrible job though and hearing her dry humor from her own lips was pretty awesome. Jokes sped by like a guy driving his mid-life-crisis car on the highway, so if you aren’t paying attention, you’ll miss the kitchy custom license plate.

Mary Norris sounded like my old choir director’s voice after a lot of singing and shouting during rehearsals. It was comforting haha. I just freaking loved this book.

Twitter: @marynorristny

61. “In the Unlikely Event” by Judy Blume – narrated by Kathleen McInerney

Finished July 28

A book by Judy Blume for adults? yes please. Judy Bloom is part of my childhood so I was super excited to hear that she wrote a book for adults. I had no idea this book was historical fiction, that the three plane crashes which the story is centered around really happened. I try not to read publisher’s summaries of books unless I’m checking out a daily deal or something. I just read the summary for ‘Unlikely Event’ and I have to wonder if knowing about the historical aspect would have changed the way I felt about the book.

There were parts that were downright creepy and I thought, wow, Bloom has one creepy imagination. She added a paranormal element to the story that may or may not have been part of what really happened in Elizabeth, New Jersey in the early 1950’s. It was a sometimes entertaining read with semi-interesting characters going through a truly terrible time in their lives.

It was crazy to read about what it was like for girls and women in the fifties. I mean we all know what it was like back then but Bloom’s writing made it seem so real. I’d recommend if you like stories about people and want to see Judy Bloom write about sex and use swear words, ha! Though really, this book is more along the lines of young adult than adult in my opinion. It was also rather soap opera-y at times.

I’m not a fan of this narrator. I read another book with dual narrators awhile back and she was one of them. I think she’d be great for children’s books. ‘Unlikely Event’ has many jewish characters and the narrator doesn’t even sound slightly Jewish when she says Jewish words. She’s also way too sugary sweet. This was a young adult book with a few adult situations and she sounds like a child trying to sound grown up.

@JudyBlume

60. “Paranoia: A Novel” by Joseph Finder – narrated by Scott Brick

finished July 21

This book took me a little longer than my usual reads since I was working on getting “That Meddling Dog” finished by deadline and also reading a book for a book club. I’ve decided to withdraw my campaign for president since it would cut into my writing, reading and baseball time.

“Paranoia” was not very believable unless I just don’t want to believe in corporate espionage. I mean I know it happens but I doubt it does to this extreme. None of the characters were likable and for the first few hours of the book I started wondering what I’d read next.

But then…

All of the sudden I was like yeah, that could happen, yeah, I’m rooting for this guy now, I dislike the people I’m supposed to dislike and mistrust the ones I’m supposed to mistrust. Right? When it was over I wasn’t ready to be done with the main characters. Now I think I’ll try and find the movie. they made a movie out of it right? This book was a daily deal and I think I remember Audible making it a daily deal because the movie was coming out or something. Really all I remember is that it was a Scott Brick narrated daily deal which means I get it no matter what it is.

Fun, entertaining, fast-paced read. *checks out Finder’s other books* Ooooh found another one narrated by Scott Brick. This is what I’m doing to help me get through a Rays game.

@joefinder

59. “Lexicon” by Max Barry – narrated by Heather Corrigan and Zach Appelman

finished July 14

Um, what? No really, what? What was this book about? I um, what? Can you please just click the above link and read the publisher’s summary? Because I don’t know what I read. I didn’t know what I was reading when I read it. What? It was good. the narration was good, especially Zach.

the book? Huh? Words. Yes. Words. Do I recommend? Huh? Action. Definitely action. Who what when where why? Huh? Whatevs.

Seriously though, there was something missing. I’m not sure what, but something was missing. There were also times of being completely lost that I did not enjoy, and edits I wanted to make. Beyond those things, it was an entertaining read.

@maxbarry

58. “The Long Goodbye” by Raymond Chandler – narrated by Ray Porter

Finished July 11

And I thought Michael Connelly was good. Wow. Raymond Chandler comes up in writerly circles as one to study so when this book came up as a daily deal, and narrated by Ray Porter, I snatched it up without a second thought.

I think I found the style of book to which Ray Porter isn’t quite well suited. Shocker, I know. I think someone like Scott Brick would have been a better Phillip Marlowe. Not to say Ray Porter was bad, that’s impossible. He’s just too current. He doesn’t have that noir sound. There is some Spanish though, which he’s really good at. So maybe that’s what got him the job.

Notes I jotted:

Comment to the writer, how’s the book coming?

*The writer in the book found this comment very annoying and I must say I agree with that sentiment, though when people don’t ask how the writing is coming, I feel like they don’t care, so there’s just no pleasing the writer.

“Maybe it’s the TV commercials. They make you hate everything they try to sell.

*This is me with radio commercials during game broadcasts. I am actively boycotting Subway as a result of their terrible commercials.

I loved this book. I’ll be reading more Chandler for sure.”

57. “Looking for Alaska” by John Green – narrated by Jeff Woodman

Finished July 8

I’m glad I watched a video (which is now unfortunately not available, sorry) of John Green talking about “Looking for Alaska” becoming a movie before I read the book, which Audible put up as a daily deal right around the time of the youtube video which I don’t think is a coincidence. Green says in the video that the book is very personal to him and when he sold the rights for the movie a decade ago, he had his misgivings but the money put his wife through college so yay and now he’s excited about the possibility of the movie because it has the same screenwriter as the movies for both “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Paper Towns”. I read both those books and watched the TFIOS movie which I thought was wonderful and which made me cry just as much as the book.

I’ll probably watch the Paper towns movie since it’s John Green though I didn’t have a strong response to the book which I read last year on my Florida trip.

There were many similarities between “Paper Towns” and “Looking for Alaska” I think. I enjoyed ‘Alaska’ more, so I sure hope they make a movie of it for sure. And I just used the word sure twice. Oops.

Oh here, have some famous last words.

Twitter: @JohnGreen

56. “The Wrath and the Dawn” by Renee Ahdieh – narrated by Ariana Delawari

Finished July 7

I follow an author on Twitter named Lauren DeStefano. (@LaurenDeStefano) I haven’t yet read her books, but follow her because I think she’s hilarious. One of my favorite authors, Samantha Shannon, (@Say_Shannon) retweeted her at some point and that’s how I began following her. Lauren DeStefano did not write ‘Wrath’, she just forced all her followers to read it. No really, she did. She tweeted about it non-stop and when I looked it up and found it on Audible, the publisher’s summary intrigued me so I put it on my wish list. I bought it as a reward when I finished writing my piece of short fiction. I swear, it did not inspire the Egyptian novel I’m planning to write for NaNoWriMo this November haha. The setting is similar, but that’s about it. I couldn’t help smiling though, when parts of ‘Wrath’ made me think about the novel I’m developing.

If you enjoy young adult fiction, I highly recommend this book. It has everything from ancient royalty to teen marriage, to sword fights to curses and oh yes, a love triangle full of “YA hotness”.

The narrator is good, though I thought she had a rather harsh, serious tone to her voice, even during light hearted moments. She wasn’t whiny though, which can really ruin YA teen angst.

I hope there’s a sequel! I’ll read some Lauren DeStefano now as a thank you for the recommendation.

Twitter: @rahdieh

55. “The Winds of War” (winds of War book 1) by Herman Wouk – narrated by Kevin Pariseau

finished July 5

This book was split evenly between June and July. I’ve noticed I’m starting to prefer books in the fifteen hour range. These forty-five hour books can get tedious and book two in this series is even longer. Oy vey.

There were many times I almost took a break and moved on to something else. I’m not a fan of how this novel was written. Some chapters began with long excerpts from a fictional book written by a German who one of the narrators of ‘winds’, Pug, translates. The point of these excerpts is to sort of summarize what happened historically that is about to happen to the fictional characters. These chapters were tedious though, and for me, interrupted the flow of the narrative. ‘winds’ follows one family through World War II and just when something gets interesting with one branch of the family, we’re suddenly stuck with the fictional German book. It’s distracting.

There are also sudden changes in the style of the writing. Wouk gets all poetic and artful out of the blue, following the rise of the sun as it touches “our heroes”, or however he puts it. It’s such a sudden change in style, I found it jarring. I’m writing this on July 2, before I’ve finished the book and at this point, I’m just counting down for it to end. Parts of it are really fun but it’s just too long and my mind wanders often. I crave a good fast paced mystery.

Ok, finished this book last night. I had already written the above since I was going to include this book in last month’s post but changed my mind. There’s a second book but I need a break and it’s even longer than this one was. I’m not sure I can handle another one. So often it just felt like nothing was happening, and I wanted to urge it on like a song being played at too slow a tempo. I can’t say I recommend this book. There are so many excellent historical fiction novels around the second world war.

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Filed under 2015 Monthly Audio Book Lists, accomplishment, apple Inc, Audio books, fellowship, gratitude, Jayden, Miss K, mom, 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!

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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

Carnival Post: I Will Not Regret the Past (Except for the Purpose of this Post)

Posts are being written and compiled for the next round of the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival, the topic of which is regrets. I’m down to the wire on this one. The deadline is in just over an hour as I paste my post into WordPress.

the first idea to come to mind when I pondered what I regret about my first and current guide dog, Jayden, is that we didn’t go to Muir Woods when we were at school together at guide Dogs for the blind. As if to punctuate that thought the day I was considering what to write about for the blog carnival, I ran across this article about Muir Woods’s tallest tree.

I knew about the trip to Muir Woods before I went to GDB and it was one of the things I was most looking forward to. I imagined beams of sunlight sneaking through the canopy of tall, stately redwoods, the scene suffused with a warm golden glow, a lovely and peaceful walk with my dog through the beauty of nature, the quiet and meditative quality of the stroll with my new partner, it was going to be beautiful.

My first mistake was having that expectation. Never, never have expectations. Nothing is ever what we think it will be.

My training at GDB was hard on me emotionally and physically and when it came time for the Muir Woods trip at the end of the three weeks, I didn’t have it in my heart to go. All I could think about was returning home with my boy and settling back in to life where I was comfortable, without instructors popping out and telling me what to do. why wouldn’t they tell me what to do? Even major league baseball players still have hitting coaches.

I regret being so damned willful.

What an experience that would have been, to stroll through those woods, to smell the trees, to take a break from the honking, humming and thumping of cars but I was just so tired. I was tired and I did not want to ride on the bus for an hour on a winding road, worrying about limiting my fluids, not just Jayden’s. Not being able to smoke. I regret that I used to be held hostage by nicotine.

Looking back, I always think Muir Woods would have been the perfect place to have that first amazing walk with jayden; our other walks were stressful for both of us while in class. I deeply regret letting the physical and mental fatigue win.

One of the ways I live today is not regretting the past, yet here I am doing just that. Jayden and I did have that first awesome walk together the day we arrived home in tucson and he guided me out of the airport, around concrete poles, following B through cold rain and biting wind to the car. I grinned the entire time even though it wasn’t majestic redwoods he guided me through.

Thinking about regrets is dangerous territory unless we look at regrets not as regrets, but as mistakes.

I made a mistake by not going to Muir Woods and I won’t make that mistake again. I learned my lesson. I have not turned down a trip since then and Jayden and I have had some pretty awesome experiences together.

If you wrote your own post on regrets for this blog carnival and if that post dredged up painful feelings, just remember the past cannot be changed and we only grow by making mistakes and learning from them.

On a lighter note,another regret I have is not teaching Jayden to stay out of the kitchen. I envy my friend Carin that she did with her guide and you can bet I won’t make that mistake again. This is a small regret, but it’s the only thing that can grow into a big thing when He won’t get out from under-foot. I’ve been able to teach him to stay on the couch when I put him there however, so I found a solution.

Oh and one more thing speaking of the couch, I regret that he was taught such good house manners with regards to furniture because here at home, he does not need permission every single time he wants up on the couch. It’s your couch too, buddy!

(Ok, that’s not really a regret since I’m incredibly grateful for his house manners. thank you to his puppy raisers!)

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Filed under blog carnival, doggy school, fellowship, GDB, guide dogs, Jayden, jayden quirks, puppy raisers, sobriety, spoons, working dog

May’s Audio Books Etc, Etc, Etc and Etc

I’ve got a lot of writing to do in the next month so the memoir is on hold for a bit. My first project is the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival who’s topic intrigued me. this round’s topic is, regrets. There isn’t much I regret about Jayden but I’d be lying if I said there were no regrets in the way I trained him in the home. Keep an eye out for that post if you’re curious.

I’ve just begun work on a piece of short fiction which I hope to have published in this young adult anthology which was just opened for submissions. The story is a prequel of sorts to the YA novel that has been in my heart, and partially written, for years. It’s the back story of one of the secondary characters who has a compelling story of her own which wouldn’t quite fit in the main novel. I’m thinking if her story is published, I could reference it in queries about the main novel. I’m excited! Usually when these calls for submissions come up on Twitter and I check them out, I don’t qualify for whatever reason or they’re looking for some kind of fiction I wouldn’t know how to begin writing. This one is right up my alley.. I was overjoyed when I read that this one is open to the world. yay! I mapped the story from start to finish today which is something I haven’t done in the past. I am learning so much about writing, just from following writers on Twitter. They tweet the best stuff!

I didn’t work on this post at all as the month of May went on. What did I do in May? Hmmm. Oh, B went on a road trip and was gone for two weeks. Cooking in this kitchen was interesting and different. Oh and I was deathly ill for the first part of his trip. He was sick, passed on his germs and then went out of town. What a guy! Haha!

I’ve been steadily ramping up my workouts yet again and I just love my writing room/office/gym. It has a hook in the ceiling for my TRX and when I position my rebounder underneath it, the TRX straps become the perfect balance handles for my Zombies Run! jogs. I’m feeling steadily better and better even with the heat of summer having so quickly descended upon us.

Baseball has been interesting this season, too. I’ve learned from watching Kevin Cash in his first year managing that I’d never want to be a baseball manager. despite new management and tons of injuries, my Rays are tied for first as I write this Sunday evening. granted, the division in which they play, the American League East, isn’t all that great this season, but still! First place is a fun place to be. Let’s see how they do on the west coast this week. Late night with the Rays on Twitter should be fun as usual. While I’m dreading the later games, I really can’t complain since they aren’t late by east coast standards.

Ok, on to books.

*Seven books this month*

47. “Trauma: A Novel” by Michael Palmer and Daniel Palmer – narrated by Xe Sands

Finished May 27

Did you know that Michael Palmer died? I had no idea. I thought he just collaborated with his son on this book. It wasn’t until the end and I was surprised to hear an interview with Daniel Palmer that I realized Michael had died. It turns out Michael had the idea for ‘Trauma’ and had begun work on it when he died suddenly and his son, who writes non-medical novels decided to pick up the pen and continue it. I thought he did a pretty good job.

I very much enjoyed ‘Trauma’ being the medical junkie I am. The book begins with the protagonist Carrie in two different surgeries. Something goes terribly wrong and as a result, her life and career take a turn and end up on a completely unexpected path.

Carrie is brought into a program at the VA using experimental surgery to cure post traumatic stress disorder in soldiers. Carrie has high hopes for this procedure to work on her brother, who suffers PTSD.

Naturally something isn’t quite right about this program and Carrie teams up with a young investigative reporter to discover the truth.

I very much enjoyed the cutting edge science even though it seemed to take an unbelievable scifi twist at first. It was definitely a page turner. The narrator was decent though she tended to oeveract a little bit and voice Carrie like a damsel in distress rather than the strong female under duress she was. I’m glad Daniel pointed out in the interview that Carrie was a strong woman because the narration really overshadowed that until I thought back on it.

Oh, a quick detail that stood out to me was Carrie’s skin growing suddenly hot beneath her scrubs during surgery. That happened to me countless times during my blood drawing days when I’d encounter a problem. It was such an awesome and accurate detail.

@DanielPalmer on Twitter

46. “The Gods of Guilt” (Mickey Haller book 5) by Michael Connelly narrated by Peter Giles

Finished May 23

Sigh, no more Mickey Haller books out for awhile. I looked up Michael Connelly and it looks like the next one is also a Harry Bosch book so that’ll be cool. These books are just fun. I don’t want to go into any detail about the book since there’s an interview with Michael Connelly at the end of the audio book before this one which, taken with details of this book, might be spoilery. Thanks for that word, John Green.

I can’t decide if I like the narrator. He’s good, don’t get me wrong. I can’t figure out how to describe his voice. Almost mechanical maybe.

45. “Jurassic Park: A Novel” by Michael Crichton – narrated by Scott Brick

finished May 2-0

When I first discovered I could buy audio books on the internet, I began trying to restock my “book shelves” with books I’d always had when I was sighted. ‘Jurassic Park’ was one of these books, however I could not find it unabridged. How disappointing. Abridged audio books need to go away.

so imagine my elation when Audible should tweet one day that for the first time at Audible, ‘Jurassic Park’ was available unabridged! And who should narrate it but Scott Brick! I was about to buy extra credits until I noticed the book was only ten bucks so I snatched it up immediately, symbolically hugging the book to my chest. Would there be cause for Brick to growl? I’ve heard of his famous growl but have yet to read a book he narrates that calls for a growl. I’ll leave you to find out if you so desire.

I enjoyed the book just as much as I had in the past and am so so grateful I have a copy of it once again! It really is worth a read since there are many differences from the movie which I think are good ones, and the science is just plain fun to hear about in detail.

44. “The fifth Witness” (Mickey Haller book 4)by Michael Connelly – narrated by Peter Giles

Finished May16

This book was goooooood. It was so good in fact that I stayed up until three in the morning to finish it after being on Google Hangouts with my friends until one in the morning since B was on his trip haha! I had only intended to listen for a few minutes before I slept and the next thing I knew I was finishing it. And it had a wonderful holy crap moment at the end. Damn but Michael Connelly can write. Maybe it was the interview with him at the end that caused me to stay awake until three, though it was really only about ten minutes, ha! Mickey Haller is just a guy you want to root for despite his many flaws. He is such a well written character. I am so hooked! I had forgotten I had this book somehow and was delighted to discover it in my Audible library.

Haller uses the song Bolero to describe the prosecution’s case to his client so naturally I had to play the song which I have in itunes. If you’ve never heard it, give it a listen. it’s about fifteen minutes long and begins very quiet so turn up your speakers. Bolero on Youtube

My friend Sadia on Facebook commented when I posted bolero, asking me if I’d heard this podcast called Unraveling Bolero I had not. Wow. Just wow.

43. “Little Mercies” by Heather Gudenkauf – narrated by Kate Rudd and Tanya Eby

Finished May 12

I got this book with my listening rewards from Audible. I’d had it in my wish list ever since reading “The Weight of Silence by the same author. ‘Mercies’ was really good. It’s about a social worker who’s life intersects with that of a ten year-old child and the two help each other in ways neither of them expected or wanted. The Reader cares about the characters right away and Kate Rudd does a wonderful job as usual with her narration, though sometimes she sounded incredibly whiny rather than just emotional. Eby voices the chapters of the child and while she does a decent job, I rarely enjoy it when an adult tries to sound like a kid. It more often than not just sounds creepy.

Great book though, and there’s an interview with the author at the end. She discusses how she did her research on social work for this book. Seems like the theme for this month is interviews with authors haha.

@hgudenkauf on Twitter

42. “The Caine Mutiny” by Herman Wouk – narrated by Kevin Pariseau

Finished May 9

I had to record this quote because I loved it.

This life is slow suicide, unless you read.

One of the characters says this in the beginning of the book and I just find it to be oh so true, though I think he was referring to military school haha!

this book was really good though in the beginning I was losing patience with Captain Numskull as I called Captain Queeg, the captain of the Caine, an aging ship with the Navy during World War II. After awhile though, I got sucked into the story and the characters, all of whom are fairly deeply flawed. Nothing was predictable except the mutiny which seemed to take forever to happen. When it did however, wow. I’ll be reading more books by this author.

There was just a good article in The Atlantic about him. I was surprised to see that people didn’t like his books back when they were published. Weak women? I didn’t think the woman in this book was weak at all, especially for the time in which she was written.

Oh and if you’re terrified of the ocean the way I am, just prepare yourself for a very vivid typhoon scene. *shudder*

41. “Tabula Rasa” by Kristen Lippert-Martin – narrated by Kate Rudd

Finished May 2

Oh man this book was so good, so so good! It was a daily deal and oh thank Audible it was because I loved it! It falls into YA but really it could fit into most any genre where an evil agency decides to “help” people by erasing their memories. I can’t describe it any better than the publisher’s summary at the Audible page. I’ll just say I freaking loved this book! I can’t wait for more from the author. this was her debut novel. wow! I’m so jealous. Highly, highly recommend this book for non stop action and awesome sarcastically funny characters.

@KLipMart on Twitter

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Filed under 2015 Monthly Audio Book Lists, Audio books, baseball, Jayden, music, twitter me this, workouts, wow, writing