Category Archives: misty eyes

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

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

Something Special for a Decade?

I was asked earlier in the week if I was doing anything special for my anniversary on Friday. Oh that’s right, it is Friday, isn’t it. My favorite number next to 3 is 424. My sobriety anniversary is the most important anniversary in my life since there’s no way I’d have the life I have today without my sobriety. No way.

Unfortunately the universe decided to make things easy for me and help me remember the date I went blind by letting that happen on my three year sobriety anniversary. I swear, I have bad luck with double anniversaries.

Of course I knew my ten year sobriety date was this month. Of course I know today is special. It just snuck up on me, what can I say? It’s been a great book month, with two books out by two of my favorite authors, the baseball season began, Josh Groban has a new album out next week along with another book by an author I just discovered, my friends got two new snakes, B and I celebrated eight years together, see how easy it was for today to sneak up on me?

I thought about my friend asking if I was doing anything special so to days ago I went looking on Amazon at sobriety medallions since I no longer attend meetings and I’m not gonna be one of “those people” who show up just for the free medallion and cheers and claps on the back and hugs. Do I miss those things? Sure. do I feel the guilt I felt when I first stopped going to meetings and showing the newcomer sobriety is possible? Nope. Ha!

That’s called growth my friends. There are plenty of people able to be constantly available to show the newcomer sobriety is possible. It’s not up to just me to save the world and I can’t be one. And that’s ok. It’s been proven to me time and time again that my life has meaning, my story has meaning, and my friends prove that to me, so much so they made me cry this morning. Ya’ll know who you are, *cough* Twitter people. Twitter people who have become my friends and constant support, who make me laugh harder than anything else ever does, who understand that going blind is not the same as breaking one’s foot.

Oh but back to Amazon. I did buy myself a trinket for today that unfortunately won’t get here until next week since today snuck up on me. It’s a dog tag necklace with, 10 Years and, One Day at a Time on it. Simple, twelve bucks, and I can’t wait to get it. Dog tag necklaces are cool!

A few hours ago I was debating writing a post today since all I’ve done over the last several months is write about my life in that memoir. Would I do anything special today? My washer just beeped. It’s never beeped before. Odd.

So no, I’m not doing anything special today. I’m washing sheets. Josh Groban is singing from the bedroom. I listened to audio this morning of my friends feeding their snakes. I laughed and smiled, and then I cried after feeling a sudden bout of melancholy, thinking over the last ten years. Maybe writing would help, as a friend pointed out. I’ll write a post and title it, A Decade in Review. I’ll write about funny memories, touching memories, I’ll cry and laugh and hope you laugh and cry too. I had a good sob when the feelings of gratitude over my friends overwhelmed me, listened to my book while I ate my cereal and the urge to write a decade in review post fled. That story is in the memoir, not yet complete, not yet close to complete, but it will be there all the same.

Instead, today is a day of reflection and memory and grateful tears, all of which are personal to me on this day of double anniversary.

I’ll do my usual Friday thing, chores and reading and Twittering and I’ll think about the past absolutely insane decade of my life at times, but then I’ll stare into space and listen to the birds and be in today and just feel.

Oh and anxiously await the male and see what my friend sent. I guess I am doing something special. *Happy giggle*

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Filed under anniversary, Audio books, baseball, fellowship, gratitude, laundry, misty eyes, music, sobriety, treat for me, twitter me this

“White Trash Zombie Apocalypse” by Diana Rowland – narrated by Allison McLemore

Hi School Zombie Apocalypse!! Two exclamation points, don’t forget the two exclamation points. I imagine this movie like a Sharknado with zombies. Hmmm, Zombnado?

Wait, is this a post about a movie?

Well it’s a movie in the book, yes. A zombie moving is being filmed in Angel Crawford’s home town and she can’t help but enjoy watching the fake zombies shamble around, that is until they are no longer fake zombies but real zombies after her. Oh yeah, and she has to take the GED test thanks to her probation and the stupid rain just won’t stop.

Turns out a lot of rain in Louisiana is a very bad thing.

There was a scene in this one that had me in tears and when I told Diana Rowland that on Twitter, she was very happy. Pssst, it’s us writer’s goal to make you cry.

There’s only one more WTZ book to review this year. I love these books! Hey, got any pudding?

Rating: So good!

“White Trash Zombie Apocalypse” at Audible

My schedule next week for my steroid treatments isn’t yet confirmed and that’s kind of bothering me. Dr. V’s MA said I’d hear from the hospital but I haven’t yet. I called the MA today and left a message just following up since it’s the end of the week tomorrow and I’m supposed to start treatment on Monday. I don’t know about you, but when I need treatment to calm my brain lesions down, I kinda want to know it’s scheduled good to go, you know?

I had a woman come today and clean my house. That was very very weird. When we moved in here I had to admit to myself that I didn’t have the energy to give it the good deep cleaning it needs. It was clean when we moved in obviously, and while I had hoped to just keep that up on my own, it wasn’t going to happen. It’s a very strange feeling to be chilling in your house while another person works hard to clean it. She’s sort of the family cleaning lady, having done my uncle’s house for years and Gamma’s house for the last few years of her life. Now she’s doing my house. Just need to get my dad on board to give up his cleaning haha!

I soaked in a nice freshly scrubbed bathtub this afternoon and the water melted away all my weird feelings. I need to spoil my body right now.

Now Playing: “Everybody Hurts” from “In Time: The Best Of R.E.M. 1988-2003” (R.E.M.)

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Filed under 2014 Book List, Audio books, family, Gamma, gratitude, humor as coping skill, misty eyes, NaBloPoMo 2014, spoons, twitter me this

“Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor” by Dick Couch and George Galdorisi – narrated by Steven Weber

This book was freaking amazing. It was like Joe Ledger without the monsters. It was like any story about family and friendship without a normal office job. This book took men and women we can all relate to and put them in situations we can’t. This story tested the bonds of love and friendship and struck the chords of my heart strings. This book shows how we, as American citizens are kept safe. If one doesn’t support our troops, one should be forced to read this book.

I marvel at the fact that I’m up to this book on my list the day before Veteran’s Day. While the story is fiction, the authors have an incredible grasp of military life, not that I would know how close they are to accuracy but the forward by Tom Clancy makes it pretty clear these guys know their stuff.

Warning: Get the tissues handy.

Rating: Marriage Material

“Act of Valer” at Audible

I was on a streaming radio show last night talking about my trip to meet the Rays. There will be a podcast of it up later in the week and I’ll provide the information when available.

Today was a good writing day. I got my fifth chapter written. I’m learning what sort of writer I am as I go along and while I wrote nearly this entire novel several years ago during NaNoWriMo, I’m finding I am not the kind of writer who writes that way. I like going chapter by chapter, refining as I go. The first four chapters I pasted a lot of from the rough draft and then added and subtracted. Today’s chapter was completely new material and I really feel like my characters are taking shape and beginning to guide the story. I have a good feeling about this novel you guys!

I also successfully scheduled two doctor appointments for this week. This week! Same week appointments? Wow. I see the neurologist Wednesday to go over my MRI and discuss treatment. I see my PCP Friday to discuss the allergies I’m suffering from since moving into this house. It’s a good feeling to take charge of my medical care once more, now that I have the energy to deal with the transportation aspect of it haha! I love winter! Winter is coming. Sorry, but Farseer dragons are so much cooler. What is she talking about? I don’t know.

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Filed under 2014 Book List, Audio books, baseball, doc, misty eyes, NaBloPoMo 2014, writing

“My Life as a White Trash Zombie” by Diana Rowland – narrated by Allison McLemore

Thank you thank you thank you Audible for daily deals that turn me on to books like this. I’m in love with the White Trash Zombie books! Oh yes, there are more than one. Yay!

Angel Crawford is a drug addicted self proclaimed white trash loser in Louisiana who wakes in the hospital after what she remembers as a terrible car accident to discover her body uninjured and a judgmental bitchy nurse telling her she overdosed. A couple cops tell her she was found naked on the side of the road. Why then, does Angel remember screaming metal and all that blood?

Turns out a terrific cure for drug addiction is zombification! the only downfall is one must eat brains.

This new and different twist to zombies is freaking awesome! The very human parts of Angel as she learns how to live life as a brain eater was often times gut wrenching and the addiction part of it all was spot on. It had me in tears a few times, just feeling for Angel as she faced the emotional demons all us addicts and alcoholics do when we can no longer numb out with substances and must face ourselves. This book was so much fun and I’ve listened to it again. The first reading of it had me laughing so hard in bed at times I asked B if he had heard me in the other room. Allison McLemore is freaking fantastic and really brings Angel to life, dropping jokes and one liners with a sweet southern drawl. I recommend this book to anyone! I do warn you, some of the scenes are a bit stomach turning as Angel is learning how to consume the brains she needs to live. Live? Stay alive? Keep her body going? Not rot? Super zombie powers, activate!

Rating: Marriage Material

‘White Trash Zombie’ at Audible

It’s fitting I was up to this book on the list today since I once chatted with the author, Diana Rowland, on Twitter about how we find an MRI relaxing and even have slept in the machines. I had an MRI today. Just a routine one, not one under the duress of f severe flairs. I’m establishing care with a new neurologist and he wants a baseline and to see what my brain looks like. I wonder if my brain is baseball shaped.

It was awesome, they let me pick Josh Groban radio to listen to on the headphones in the MRI machine. Unfortunately it was a Pandora like station so there were artists other than Josh Groban too but they were all relaxing.

I find the MRI comforting. The bangs and vibrations are meditative. I used to think I was just really weird until Diana Rowland tweeted one day about sleeping in the MRI machine. Kindred spirits!

She’s awesome! There are two more White Trash Zombie books in the future. I’ve read the four that are out. Hehehe had my braaaaaaaaain looked at today bwah ha ha!

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Filed under 2014 Book List, Audio books, humor as coping skill, misty eyes, NaBloPoMo 2014, sobriety, spoons, twitter me this

“We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart – narrated by Ariadne Myers – Fun, Frustration, Javelina

I can’t remember why I got this book, if it had been a daily deal or one that was discussed often on Twitter. Maybe both. The great thing about collecting authors on Twitter is I get a lot of good book suggestions. I sometimes jot notes to myself about books as I’m reading them, though I don’t do it as often as would come in handy with how behind i get on book posts. On my list, I had just written, “raw emotion” next to this title. That was so not helpful! The only thing I could distinctly remember about this book was that I had the twist figured out really early on and was disappointed. So why had I written raw emotion? Had I lay sobbing as I listened to this book? I just could not remember. I quested out to the me of late May but nothing was jogging my memory. I downloaded the book last night and listened to the last chapter.

Ok…yes, I remember that…uh huh, right, yes. I don’t remember sobbing or anything oh wait listen to the narrator’s voice begin to shake with the emotion of the character oh yes, oh oh no, yes I remember that raw emotion and suddenly I could recall laying curled in my bed back at the apartment, body wracking with sobs, and I wished I hadn’t had to remember.

Honestly, if I had read this book in print, I’m not sure it would have gotten me like it did. The narrator though, either it got her or she’s just a really good actress. That’s all I’ll say about this book. Even the publisher’s summary reads that if someone asks about the ending, llie. I added E. Lockhart to my collection on Twitter and she’s a fun follow. Someone tweeted her that they think of Professor Lockhart from Harry Potter when they see her name and she joked that the family doesn’t acknowledge him.

I didn’t even give ‘We Were Liars’ a rating on my book list, just raw emotion. I suppose that gets a so good rating.

‘We were Liars’ at Audible

I had a day that started fun and ended with frustration and fatigue. I had an appointment to get my hair cut this morning and I always enjoy trips to the salon. That tends to be where I do my socializing. Jayden loves the cousin of my hair stylist. The two shair a studio together. There’s always fun talk in there and lots of laughter. I’d had plans for the afternoon to get together with a friend for a smoothie but she forgot she had a doctor appointment and that was probably a good thing because after I had my lunch I got hit with a wave of mind numbing fatigue. I just collapsed on the couch for awhile after trying to find Jayden’s wobbler and failing. He had pushed it halfway under the couch the crazy dog. I found it later when I asked him to show me and he went right back to the end of the couch he had taken me to an hour before and pointed. I got down on my back and reached under the couch and just was able to grab the Wobbler. How he wedged it under there I’ll never know but I was proud of him for the way he showed me where it was.

The frustrating part of the day was finding out the blind center got its funding cut for independent living classes for people under the age of fifty-five. I won’t rant here because I did that on Twitter and Facebook. Good came out of that because an old friend who now works at voc rehab told me to call her at the office on Monday. So there’s hope. I just want to learn my block sO JAy and I can go for walks. Crap when was caps lock turned on? Oh I am soooo not going letter by letter. Sorry if I yelled for part of this post. I’m freaking tired haha. Blah.

Ok stupid freaking javelina! A friend of ours got attacked by them tonight. I am so grateful we have a wall now! Damned useless pig rodent monsters!

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Filed under 2014 Book List, desert life, fellowship, Jayden, jayden quirks, misty eyes, NaBloPoMo 2014, spoons, twitter me this

‘Fall of Giants’ and ‘Winter of the World’ by Ken Follett – narrated by John Lee – A Character Name Revealed

These books were freaking fabulous! I have Ricardo to thank yet again for the recommendation that I read ‘Fall of Giants’. We are both huge fans of historical fiction and this book introduces the reader to five families before World War One and the Russian Revolution and we see that history through their eyes and lives. Go down into the mines with thirteen year-old Billy as he becomes a man and descends for the first time. He introduces us to the Welsh characters and begins the book, hooking you instantly with his youthful optimism and pride. As characters from the other of the five families are introduced we feel as though we are shaking the hands of real people. John Lee’s narration lends the right amount of accent to each person be they Welsh, Russian, German, English or American. It always cracks me up when the majority of a book is done in accents other than American when the first American character is introduced. I always think, do we really sound like that?

The second book in the trilogy follows our families into the harrows of the Nazi Regime and the dawn of the atomic age. While the events of the first world war were terrible, what follows in ‘Winter of the World’ was nauseous making. The extermination by the Nazis of the elderly and disabled…I’ll admit my ignorance and say I had to look that up because I wasn’t sure if what I was reading was just embellishments on history by the author. It was too much to hope for poetic license however. Is this why I was never taught the truth about history in school? Do they wish to protect young minds? I knew how terrible the Nazis and Hitler were. You can’t ignore the fact that concentration camps existed, though I know there are those who believe the Holocaust was made up. When you read about these events while walking beside characters who are likable and human, the result is truth mixed with fictional humanity, the only saving grace of which is knowing that what happened to the daughter of a character from the first book didn’t actually happen because that daughter didn’t exist. It is when you remind yourself that women like her did exist that you feel a piece of your heart break.

Sitting here thinking about those people I spent so much time with during these two books is making a lump form in my throat. I don’t question where Follett gets these ideas, like the dogs, oh the dogs, like I do of say, Stephen King or Gillian Flynn, because Follett wrote these books straight out of history. That makes it all equal parts horrible and page turning. In complaining to Ricardo just now about the subject matter being rough, he reminded me, “but there is something of overcoming adversity to be found.”

I don’t know what else to say about this trilogy except when I had begun the second book and found out the third wasn’t out yet, I wanted to throw something. People who begin this trilogy now are lucky it’s complete. Oh, I had jotted a note on my book list, the note simply reading: Sears and Roebuck catalogue. There was a hilarious scene where a Russian just back from America is showing his girlfriend the catalogue. While it was funny, it was also a bit embarrassing. the woman couldn’t believe all the things one could buy in America. Like a tractor. A tractor! In the same catalogue as pajamas. We really do love our capitalism.

When I was getting the link to the first book at Audible, I luckily noticed a free interview for members with Ken Follett and John Lee about ‘Fall of Giants’. It was wonderful! I will now be checking out Follett’s Pillars of the Earth Series. The link to the interview is below the links for the books.

‘Fall of Giants’ at Audible
‘Winter of the World’ at Audible
Link to interview with Ken Follett and John Lee

Wow, so bad writing days happen even when you’re just writing a blog post haha. That was like pulling teeth to write. Yesterday I watched a webinar with Scott Westerfeld that filled me with love and optimism for my novel, maybe that’s why writing a post about something other than my fictional world was hard? Haha! I was seriously so happy after I finished the webinar yesterday. According to Scott’s definition, I am most definitely a writer even though I haven’t yet been published. I eat sleep and breathe my characters, I can’t sleep when I wake in the middle of the night in their world, I think about writing all the time, so yeah, I’m a writer according to him. Squeee!

I am also incredibly grateful he told the story of walking down the street with his wife, novelist Justine Larbalestier, talking about the novel he was working on, ‘Extras’ the fourth book in the Uglies trilogy, and he thought out loud that maybe he should write the book from the little sister’s point of view and Justine said, “oh my God you have to!” Unfortunately he had written almost the entire novel so he went back and completely changed the point of view from one character to another, not just from third to first. Oh wow.

So, I immediately made a decision about my own novel, luckily nowhere near completion, having changed my female protagonist’s POV from third to first a few weeks ago and writing my male protag in the third person. While I liked the concept, feeling more like her POV was closer since it was in first, I wasn’t soled on the idea so after hearing Scott’s story, I went and changed her back to third. My friend Davis made a funny joke on Twitter about that:

@newspaper_manbaserunning mistakes will doom you.

Baseball is life. The rest is just details.

After reading that little story to myself, I feel it’s time I reveal my female protag’s name, because I mentioned the book ‘Extras’. I named my girl long before I read ‘Extras’. She was actually a completely different character I made up when I took the F2K fiction writing course. I named her Ren for that course. I have since morphed Ren from an FBI Agent to a fifteen year-old high school sophomore. There is a character named Ren in ‘Extras’ but I swear I didn’t name her after him! He’s awesome though. I think the two Ren’s would get along well.

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“Love Life” by rob Lowe – narrated by Rob Lowe, Synchronicity and a Deep Question

I read Rob Lowe’s first memoir back in early 2012 and it placed seventh on that year’s top ten book list. I couldn’t wait for ‘Love Life’ to come out since I loved Lowe’s first book. It definitely did not disappoint.

‘Love Life’ doesn’t just pick up where his first book left off, rather it just tells different stories from his life in acting, family and sobriety. His stories about his son going off to college were gut wrenching and totally tear making. I can’t imagine what those stories must be like for people with children if they touched me that deeply. One can hear the emotion in his voice as he reads those segments.

The book wasn’t all heart warming stories about his family. There’s a particularly erm, interesting story about Lowe’s visit to the Playboy Mansion in his early twenties when fame was just finding him that actually made me slightly uncomfortable. I’m not a prude my any sense of the word so the only thing I can think that might have caused my squirming was the fact that my favorite baseball player is engaged to a Playboy bunny who is the mother of his children. Is that why? Perhaps I need to look at that some more haha!

I actually got a retweet from Rob Lowe after I tweeted him that his Bigfoot sound effect made my dog jump haha! It was at night and Jayden and I were curled in our respective beds when the howling issued from my speaker and the jingle of Jayden’s tags told me he had jerked awake. It was hilarious! I can’t remember exactly what Lowe’s comment was in the retweet but I think he apologized to Jayden or something. Does it matter what he said? I got a tweet from Rob Lowe! *Squeeeee!*

I enjoyed reading his memoir as research for my own memoir that I have finally begun. Much like my fiction novel, it is mostly a series of notes in my computer and memories marinating in my head. Fall is the time I usually devote to writing since baseball is over, so hopefully a dent will be placed in both projects. I like to think that my own voice in telling my story is similar to Rob Lowe’s. It’s one of seriousness mixed with self-deprecating humor. I remember when I was very newly sober, a woman told me that it’s ok to share about what I perceived as weakness because it made me relatable and therefore more helpful to others. Rob Lowe might be a hugely successful celebrity but he is also incredibly relatable and down to earth. I hope he writes another memoir! If he does, I hope he doesn’t terrify me like he did with the orange juice in this one.

Rating: Marriage Material

“Love Life’ at Audible

I wrote in yesterday’s post that I would include more life details in all these book posts so it doesn’t feel like I’m cheating for this year’s NaBloPoMo haha. I couldn’t help but think this afternoon when I sat on my couch with Jayden after sleeping extremely late that at that moment, I was loving life and the book I’d be writing about in today’s post was titled ‘Love Life’. Is it a good thing to notice the moments when one is loving life? By that I mean, do I notice those moments because it’s rare they creep in amongst the angst, fear and worry I so often feel? It’s like when you enjoy a steak all the more because you so rarely have a steak, whereas if you always had steaks, would you enjoy them as much? Do you get my meaning?

Today as I felt how much I loved that moment, I was enjoying the first cup of coffee of the day. The door was open to the cool breeze of the fall afternoon, football was on, the sounds of whistles and crowd noise the soundtrack as B and I woke up more than just our minds.

We’ve lived here a month and today was the first weekend day that both of us slept well into early afternoon. We were both pleasantly surprised. I’ve slept pretty well in this house but hadn’t yet enjoyed the truly luxurious experience of taking hours to fully awaken from a cozy and constant doze. It was wonderful!

The house in which we moved a month ago is a three bedroom two bathroom house with a nice big backyard. The yard is walled in so no more surprise visits from javelina! I love taking Jayden out in the mornings and listening to the birds in the several trees in the yard as they greet the day. I can’t wait to have chairs on the porch on which to sit and drink a cup of coffee haha!

It’s been interesting learning the new space. There has been much frustration as walls and the refrigerator jump out into my path. I have my writing studio/workout room at last! I am currently sitting in it as I type this, music softly playing, door closed to the sound of the Bigfoot movie B is watching. It’s not lost on me that I wrote about Rob Lowe’s memoir in which he tells a Bigfoot story. I often find interesting instances of synchronicity in my life, like a book with the name of a character being the same as a name of a character in the book I just finished. Am I the only one who notices things like that?

I think it’s time I wrap this up and tackle the issue of posting. I discovered yesterday that Voiceover is not playing nice with the checkboxes on the WordPress dashboard since I updated to Yosemite. It seems I can check boxes in the WordPress app though, so I’ll save this as a draft and go figure that out. Tomorrow’s book post will be a two-for-one I think. Both were rather dry non-fiction books.

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Tampa Bay Trip – Day Six: Pho and a Record Tieing Homer

Thursday was the day before I was flying back to Tucson. Professor Twain and I had planned to go out for lunch on this day way back before I left home. We had discussed the kinds of food I like and I mentioned that I like everything and love to try different types of ethnic foods. We had originally leaned towards Ethiopian but somehow we decided to go out for Pho since David Price is always talking about it.

After the excitement of the week I was really looking forward to hanging out with the Professor and his wife. (I love saying that) They picked me up at my hotel in the early afternoon and we went on an adventure! Well it was more like a long drive but for me it was an adventure. Their favorite Pho restaurant is Pho Quyen Vietnamese Restaurant in north Tampa. As we drove, Mrs. T described things we passed and we all talked happily. I was so excited to try some different food!

When we walked in the smell made my stomach rumble. It was such a delicious smell, the kind of scent that fills only ethnic food places. Sure it smells nice in say, Ruby Tuesdays, especially when you’re hungry but this, oh no there goes my stomach! I should have written this just after lunch.

They had told me about the different types of Pho before we got to the restaurant so I already knew I wanted the shaved beef. This beef is sliced paper thin and put into the hot soup rare so as it cooks it soaks up all the Flavor. I couldn’t wait!

We ordered fresh rolls. How did the Professor describe it? it was veggies wrapped in a transparent dough and not fried. They came with this peanut dipping sauce that I taste in my dreams.

I ordered a cup of coffee but this was no ordinary coffee. It was a mini French press they bring to your table. The cup had sweetened condensed milk in the bottom and you brew the coffee right over the cup. I had forgotten that the waiter had said to stir the coffee. I took a sip and savored the dark necter. It was the richest coffee I have ever had! I remembered to stir the second cup haha! Oh man that was good coffee.

When the Pho arrived the aroma wafting from the bowl was enough for the hunger to raise up a notch. Along with the bowl of Pho came fresh basil and bean sprouts you added to the bowl to taste. I had never had fresh basil and it wasn’t at all what I was expecting. It has an almost sweet taste, like annis. There was also a bottle of sauce that added some salty flavor. Not soy sauce. I don’t know what it was called.

The soup has long thin noodles like Ramen noodles. I ate and ate and ate and ate some more. It was such an amazing feeling to have an appetite again now that all the nerves were gone! I didn’t quite finish the bowl but came dang close.

It was a wonderful dining experience. It wasn’t quick. There was plenty of time to talk and tell stories and savor the food. I am absolutely going back there next time I’m in the Tampa Bay area, no doubt!

We stopped at the restroom and the only reason I’m bringing this up is because they have something really cool in Florida restrooms. Mrs. T was telling me how common they are getting. The handicapped stalls have sinks in the stall! Mrs. T was telling me how convenient that was when she was in a wheelchair once. It was incredibly nice for me since bathroom sinks are always a pain in the arse. There’s no standard for sinks so I constantly have to feel around for the soap and paper towels and such. It was nice to do that in private. So cool!

I needed more coffee so we stopped at a drive-thru Starbucks and I got my mocha and then we enjoyed the drive back to Treasure Island. What an absolutely lovely day! Thank you Professor and Mrs. Twain! Never forget the Pho phone!

Not too much later, Davis, Tina and Butch picked me up for our fourth game in a row. We wouldn’t be in the suite that night. We were just regular fans haah. I was recognized though, or rather Jayden was, several times. It was so weird to feel like a celebrity! Davis had called his ticket rep and got us four seats in the outfield disabled seating. All that means is you get comfy folding chairs in front of a rail. I like those kind of seats! You aren’t cluttered in close with other people and you have plenty of room. I liked the outfield seats better than the suite actually. Since it was open, I could hear everything much more clearly and the radio came in much clearer. I wouldn’t turn down a night in the suite though, that’s for sure.

Not long ago B and I went to a DBacks game and sat in a suite he’d gotten tickets for through work. The only thing nicer than the Trop’s suite was a private bathroom in the suite. There weren’t walls on the sides, so it wasn’t a private suite at all. The Trop is better. Perhaps I’m biased. *Smiling face with smiling eyes emoji*

I was hungry again even though I had stuffed myself full of Pho! Hello appetite, glad to have you back. We went down to the pasta bar yummmm. I dream about that pasta. You customize it. I got bow tie pasta with alfredo sauce, pesto and veggies. I can’t remember which veggies. Soooo goooood! Man, this is the hungry making post. Oh and Dr. Pepper! The suite had only had Pepsi products. Except they didn’t give me Dr. pepper. Tina ran back down and switched it out. So sweet!

I met the Rays Whiteboard guy. He’s a legend of sorts. He hangs out in the outfield writing things on a big whiteboard for the ahem, benefit of the opposing players in the outfield. It was a blast, hanging out like every other fan! It makes it really really hard not to live there, let me tell ya. Julie came and sat with us for awhile too. We had put out on Twitter where we’d be in case anyone wanted to come by. The cat only dragged in Julie though. Tee hee! She’s my baking buddy. Mmm her chocolate cookies!

At one point a man walked up to me, handed me a hat in a plastic bag, said every girl should have a pretty hat, and walked away. I was astounded haha! Tina got excited because she has the same hat. It’s blue but with a purpleish tinge and all the writing on the cap is in sparkly silver. Pretty! I wore it the rest of the game and all the next day as I did something you’ll find out about in the next post. I wore the hat all the way home to tucson.

Was the homer before or after the hat? I guess you’ll find out when you watch the video, sightlings. Am I wearing the hat? Evan Longoria hit a three run homer, tying the franchise record for the most homers by a single player. Tina just happened to start to video right as he hit it out. I debated hard whether to share this, but what the heck hahaha! Enjoy the laugh.


Direct youtube link

The Rays won that night so my record in games I’ve attended stands at 2-5. Not a great record. I need to get up to at least 500. One win at a time. Hey, I’m 500 at home though!

As we were getting ready to depart our seats, Andrew Found us, so I met one more person I’ve talked to on Twitter before leaving, yay!
It was sad leaving the Trop for the last time on that trip. We took some pictures before getting into the car. Butch got a picture with Jayden. Those two were buddies! The picture was on a TV broadcast recently. I think it’s called Friend of Rays? Something like that. If you use a certain hash tag with a picture, it might get featured and Butch and Jayden were featured! yay!

I would be leaving the next day. Butch said he’d try and get to the airport and we tearfully said goodbye. I’m tearing up again now, remembering it. The trip was almost over. There would be no more games, no more cowbell, no more cheering. I had one thing left to do, and it would happen the next day.

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