Category Archives: silly girl

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

A Tweet to Remember

I would not want to be Wil Wheaton. For some reason that guy gets tons of hate on Twitter. I guess that’s just part of being a celebrity but why must it be so? I follow his wife Anne too and she gets hate as well. It’s so ridiculous. They are the nicest people. Wil is very vocal about his opinions and those opinions have created trolls, for sure. I learned to guard my opinions on Twitter after I was trolled in direct message where no one could come to my aid. Now I keep my opinions on politics to myself since it seriously rattles me when people argue with me and they make no sense so how on earth do you argue back? I can’t even imagine that times two million since Wil Wheaton has over two million followers though I’m pretty sure the majority of those people are those of similar opinion to himself and not trolls. As his wife pointed out, people who troll her aren’t even her followers.

Anyway so last night Wil Wheaton retweeted one of his many trolls and it was just such a mean tweet that I replied:

@Raynaadi @wilw I just don’t understand people.

I thought about it for a couple minutes and then tweeted him:

@Raynaadi @wilw *hugs* Do those of us who don’t hate you need to be more outspoken or do you know we’re out here?

I then went to bed. When I get up in the mornings I rob a few sips of coffee from the pot while it’s brewing (thanks for the tip of adding extra coffee grounds so robbing the pot doesn’t kill the whole thing Professor Twain) and cuddle with Jayden on the couch checking things on my phone while I start to wake up. After emails and app updates I opened my Twitter client and checked mentions. There was a mention from a stranger both to me and Wil Wheaton telling me my comment was a good one or something like that and then, the mention to start my Thanksgiving off with elation:

@wilw@Raynaadi I hear you 🙂

OMG OMG OMG OMG! I mean OH EM GEE you guys. Wil Wheaton replied to me on Twitter. Wil Wheaton! Wesley Freaking Crusher you guys! Fourteen year-old me was totally freaking out. I mean just dying right? I was sooooo in love with him when I was fourteen and he replied to me! He noticed me! Cue the dancing on the bed screaming.

So I won’t be forgetting this Thanksgiving any time soon and now I have the blog post to remember it along with the tweet. So I’ve had tweets from Evan Longoria and Wil Wheaton now I just need Josh Groban. It’s a Twitter bucket list! It just goes to show that you never know what will catch the eye of a famous person you admire on Twitter. I was just feeling bad for Wil Wheaton and those feelings flowed through my fingertips at him. More tweets with honey than vinegar? Haha! Just remember Mr. Wheaton, haters hate up, in the words of Ice T.

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Filed under coffeeholic, evan longoria, holiday, Jayden, NaBloPoMo 2014, silly girl, twitter me this

Even in my morning desire to rage, I didn’t have the urge to smash it like a bullpen phone.

Welcome to another episode oF *CROWD CHANTS THE WORDS* SLEEP! DEPRIVED! FUN! WITH YOUR HOST, RO, THE RAYS DUCHESS OF THE ARIZONA TERRITORIES!

I HAVE THE TIARA TO PROVE IT.

NO REALLY, I DO. I WAS SERIOUSLY TEMPTED TO WEAR IT TO MY LAST STEROID TREATMENT YESTERDAY. I HADN’T HAD THE ENERGY TO BATHE THE DAY BEFORE AND BLOW OUT MY HAIR SO I STUCK MY RAYS CAP ON YESTERDAY AND ALMOST PUT THE TIARA ON OVER IT. I THINK I HAVE EXPERIENCED A LITTLE OF WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE IN A MANIC PHASE. I MENTIONED IN YESTERDAY’S POST THAT I LISTENED TO THAT GNARLES BARKLEY SONG CRAZY ALL THE WAY TO THE HOSPITAL. JUST ON REPEAT. THE DRIVER WAS A SPEED RACER TOO, SO IT WAS A SERIOUSLY FUN RIDE TO THE HOSPITAL. I KINDA WISH I HAD WORN THE TIARA.

Davis just informed me on Twitter that I was yelling. I hate it when I knock caps lock on and don’t notice it. Was I yelling in this post? Well, it would fit. I’m feeling crazy again this morning as the hours tick by. I don’t know for sure when I woke up. I try not to check the time so I don’t obsess but then I needed an ibuprofin and I always note the time when I take one since I take the 600mg pill and I don’t want to overload my kidneys. When I checked the time it was 3:00am and I had been laying awake for quite awhile. *groan*

So I lay there some more and then just gave up and got out of bed. I ended up reading through all my short stories here when I grabbed the link to the archives page to send to my new neuropathic friend. (His title. I like it.)

My writing schedule has been killed these last two weeks with all the medical stuff that came up so suddenly. I don’t know how I’ve managed to get a post up every day for NaBloPoMo. I’m sure the last few don’t make much sense. At least this morning I’m co-hearing ok that’s me trying to use Dictate on the Mac to spell a word and it’s just not working. Coherent There we go! Oh, it’s ent not ant.

Did I already write that I see the neurologist today? Maybe I’m not coherent if I already forgot what I’ve written. I’ve mentioned it on Twitter so that might be where I wrote it. this is why I shut Twitter down when I’m working on the novel haha.

It’s only 5:12. My alarm is going off in just under two hours. At least it’s not a three hour infusion today with travel to and from the hospital mixed in. I’m hoping to talk to my friend Shupa this afternoon after I get home. I’ve been drawing on her strength the last few days without her knowing it. Sometimes you just reach out through the ether to people who understand what you’ve going through.

I can’t quite seem to get silly like I have in past sleep deprived posts. Hmmm.

You know what sucks? Steroids. usually they’re awesome. this go round? Not so much. usually they increase your apetitie. Oh God I can’t type that word hahaha. Apetitie. What? Ok is a brain lesion effecting my finger nerves? Appetite. Ok had to type it super slow. Anyway, usually food is awesome right? I love food. And in the past on steroids when the hunger would hit and it hits fast, it was fun to wolf down food and appease the hunger monster. I mean it comes on FAST. It’s like, you better feed me now bitch, or there’ll be hell to pay. but yesterday? Hunger hit, had to eat but the thought of food was disgusting. I had my usual lunch at about 3pm after I got home and had to clean up cat mess and it was like forcing down my turkey and radish sandwich that I usually love. Then I went and got a light massage, therapist going easy on me just to help relax the muscles but not exacerbate anything. I had told B before my massage that I had no idea what I might want to eat after so I’d just make PB & J. I mean one can always eat PB & J right?

When I got home I decided I wouldn’t eat. But then the hunger hit and there was no choice. I had to force down that PB & J. I am not enjoying this.

My vertigo is pretty bad. I think if my eyes worked, I’d be noticing some vision issues. It’s hard to explain what I feel since I can’t see, but I feel my eyes trying to do something. It reminds me of the nystagmus I had as a kid. That’s where your eyes vibrate. It used to happen to me at night when I turned the lights out to sleep. I’d have to turn the bedside light on and stare at it to make my eyes stop vibrating. That’s almost how they feel now.

So I don’t know how much success the steroids were. I don’t know if the doc will order another MRI. Several have asked me that. I didn’t have a second MRI in the past after steroids, but that was after being treated at the hospital, so who knows what Dr. v will want. I’m looking forward to this week being over but I am grateful I see him today.

I’m just plopping my hat on today. Don’t worry, I won’t put the tiara on. I am becoming one of those people who goes out with hair overdo for a wash. Nooooooo!!!! I just have not had the energy to shower after treatment this week and I can’t do it in the mornings because bathing takes all my energy. So…body spray it is! I hope I don’t stink. I don’t think I do. I haven’t sweat. It’s been really beautiful here weather wise.

So I’m just sitting here drinking coffee, flipping over to Twitter and carrying on conversations. The heater is on. the air from the vent in my den is so loud I have to adjust the volume of my screen reader when it turns off and on .

Oh no, the hunger wolf is prowling. I’d really rather have breakfast close to the time I’ll be leaving to my appointment but when this wolf gets hungry, it gets really hard to ignore, like a dog who is demanding attention. I think I only have one more bowl of Special K left in the box. *sob*

I’m going to get some green tea later with my prescription. My massage therapist said green tea is good to help the body adjust after high doses of steroids. I didn’t ask how he knows that. Maybe I should see if I can get ARod on the line for his tips. Bah ha ha! I assure you my phone is safe from harm. Even in my morning desire to rage, I didn’t have the urge to smash it like a bullpen phone.

Dammit hungry. Maybe I can manage a slice of bread with some peanut butter. Hmmm. Yeah that sounds good. I’ll go try and eat that and report back.

Ok, that was pretty tasty. I stuck a half a banana on there. Jayden was happy with this development. A taste of peanut butter and a half a banana? Nom.

Only problem is I forgot to take a Zantac this morning. Steroid heartburn sucks. Just popped one so hopefully it’s not too late.

I think I’m done rambling about nothing. I’m getting sleepy. Go figured. Three hours till I leave for the doctor. Tick Tock.

Today’s song of the day:

I really like how WordPress handles youtube videos now. Just plop the link in and WP does the rest.

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Filed under coffeeholic, doc, gratitude, humor as coping skill, iPhone, Jayden, mental health, NaBloPoMo 2014, num num food, rambles, random stuff, screen reader, silly girl, Sleep Deprived Fun, spoons, twitter me this, weather, youtube

“Light in August” by William Faulkner – narrated by Will Patton – Thoughts on Reading Classics in High School

I just spent some time reading through the Audible reviews of this book to help me remember it. That is the biggest downfall to getting so behind on book posts. When I came to this title on my list I was filled with a feeling of fond remembrance, so I knew I liked it but details of the book had escaped my memory. I had given it a so good rating back when I finished it and I’m having a memory that all through listening to it I had marriage material in mind but something about how it finished made me drop the rating down. I cannot for the life of me remember why. I want to say the ending was weak in comparison to the rest of the novel. Aside from whatever made me knock the rating down, this was n excellent book.

I haven’t read any other Faulkner. Several of the Audible reviews were from people who read this book or other Faulkner in high school and having revisited him as adults found they were much better able to appreciate him. I have revisited books I read in high school as well and every time it makes me question why we force teenagers to read what we force them to read.

I remember being hooked from the start, marveling on the quiet poetic nature of the descriptions of setting and characters. I do remember we begin with a pregnant woman traveling across the south to reunite with the father of her baby who had left to work and had promised to return. When he did not, the woman set out to find him. Her determination and belief that he loved her was heartbreaking. As a woman in the twenty-first century, I just shook my head and thought, oh honey.

What follows are the stories of several characters and how their individual lives weave together. They’re stories are all tragic and heartbreaking. This is a book set in the racist sexist south of the early twentieth century so one knows from that description this is not a heartwarming novel.

I have not had much luck with the classics this year as my friend Ricardo says but this one was wonderful. The fact Will Patton narrated is what sold me on it when it was a daily deal. If he is listed as narrator, it’s a no brainer. He’s just plain good.

Rating: So good!

‘Light in August’ at Audible

I want to revisit the thought about reading classics in high school. There are only a few books I remember liking in high school when forced to read them. ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald was one. ‘A Separate Peace’ by John Knowles I liked so much I um accidentally forgot to return it to my english class. What was the one about the kids on the island? I remember a pig’s head on a stick? Google, help me out here. ‘Lord of the Flies’! (Search terms: kids crash landed on island) I know I liked them in high school but did I know why I liked them? I’ve since listened to the first two again and liked them even more though I could not stop myself from looking for bits of symbolism as if Mr. Heintz were asking me what I thought the eyeglasses on the building, (or was it a sign?) meant. I remember Mr. Heintz saying it meant everything was seen. Haha! Remember reading books in high school and discussing the symbolism of things? I admit, when I read books now, I don’t look for what things symbolize. usually if it’s important, it comes out in the telling of the story anyway. Though every time water plays a big role in a book, I can’t help but think, that means she’s being reborn. She’s being cleansed. So wow, Tally was reborn and cleansed a lot in the Uglies books, right Mr. heintz? I wonder if Scott Westerfeld meant to convey that symbolism haha.

Maybe, just maybe, I need to read some Hemingway as an adult. And ‘Heart of Darkness’. Hemingway and Conrad. *Shudder* ‘Old Man and the Sea’ and ‘Heart of Darkness’ are two books I remember clearly despising in high school. Perhaps they weren’t terrible books. Maybe if I read them today I’ll love them. On the other hand, why would I take the chance of possibly torturing myself when I could be reading some more Royal Spyness books?

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Filed under 2014 Book List, Audio books, NaBloPoMo 2014, silly girl

I Chose to Keep Scully

Hi everyone!

{silence}

hello?

{crickets}

*Sigh*

Hello? (hello…hello…hello…)

Well, it looks like I’ve lost all my readers again. Serves me write for being a terrible blog poster. I haven’t even finished writing about my St. Pete trip. In my defense though, this summer hasn’t exactly been the smoothest as far as my health goes. You know what though? That’s not a great excuse for not writing, especially since right now I’m writing this post to force myself to stay put and not move my tortured body for a little while. Luckily my forearms don’t hurt. That’s when it’s really tough to write. My friend Liz inspired me to post an update, so that I shall do.

I’m forcing myself to rest my body because for the last month I have been purging and packing the apartment. B and I are moving into a rental house tomorrow. Tomorrow! Tomorrow! I love ya! Tomorrow! Multiple musical notes emoji. That’s what I hear when the um, emoji that I assume has multiple musical notes is tweeted, mostly by Josh Groban. Ro, stay on point man.

Anyway, so I have been furiously working on the apartment getting it ready to move. The stuff in it, not the actual apartment. I’m learning how to become a minimalist, which is basically just, don’t keep every freaking little thing you ever owned in your entire life. Objects don’t have feelings. It is ok to throw them out. I um, Googled, “how to become a minimalist,” that’s how I know my teddy bear didn’t cry when I put him, it, in the garbage bag. That teddy bear is the only thing I regret throwing away. Out of the loads and loads of stuff I threw out or donated, I’d say that’s a win for me. It also really helps that anything that had no texture that brought back a good memory was thrown out. That means all papers and pictures, gone. Poof. I found a lot of great things I had forgotten I had and most of the things I kept filled one big Rubbermaid container and were trinkets from childhood and my teen years, like my Mulder and Scully Barbie dolls. I kept Scully but not Mulder. *Gasp* Oh hush, they weren’t in their box and the Scully doll looks cooler. What? Oh you thought the title was in reference to Vin Scully? No, this post has nothing to do with baseball for once.

OMG did you know cigarette smoke never goes away? I am so glad I quit smoking. I found a robe I love and even after washing it, I still smelled stale smoke. Yuck!

B is coming home in about forty-five minutes to take me to the house so I can check it out. It will be my first time there. I agreed to this house without ever stepping foot inside it. B looked at it from the outside twice and last night was his first time inside the house. We were on the phone as he did a walk through. I’m super excited! I am going to have my girl cave/writing studio/workout room/guest room! I can’t wait! I don’t know which of the two spare rooms it will be yet, either the green room or the purple one. (The owner of the house raised kids there. We’re the first renters.) I’ll pick the room today. I can’t wait! Oh, and the thing that sparked the move, washer and dryer. Inside. No more lugging laundry out in the heat!

I’ve set up some pretty major writing goals for myself after I get settled into my office girl cave quiet room. perhaps this is the first of many things I’ll be writing in the next couple of years. Here’s hoping!

Ok, must get dressed in leave-the-house clothes. Finally get to check out the house I’ve been dreaming of for a month! Jayden will have a yard with a wall. No javelina! Oh man I can’t wait! Now to make it until tomorrow night when I’m hoping to have showered off the day’s grime and be settling in to relax. We have movers thank goodness. I have movers coming from the University of Arizona through a company called Bellhops. They are an affordable moving company who sends college students to come do the heavy lifting for you. We’re just about all packed up and ready to go. Squee!

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Filed under Jayden, laundry, plugs, rambles, silly girl, Sleep Deprived Fun, spoons, twitter me this, writing

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.


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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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Tampa Bay Trip – Day Five: Ducky’s , Field passes and TV oh my!

*Just previewed this post and there are mucho mistakes but I’m tired so I’m not fixing them.*

I certainly didn’t mean to take a few days to get back to the trip posts but life doesn’t care about your plans eh? Anyway, onward we go to day five.

Knowing what was going to happen on this day was a big part of all the nerves I was feeling. It was April 2 and I knew I would be going on the field for batting practice. I knew I would be meeting players and I knew I needed to tell Evan Longoria that he saved my life. I had one chance and if I chickened out and didn’t tell him, I might not ever get the chance again. Just think back and pick out a certain athlete or musician or whatever it may be that was a part of your life during a huge turning point. Now imagine you knew there was a really good chance you would meet them. Imagine the fear that you wouldn’t, like when it could have happened the year before but didn’t, that fear mixed with excitement. No wonder I had a hard time eating haha!

Oh yeah, and before all this I was going to Evan Longoria’s restaurant, Ducky’s. Man who gave me baseball and saved my life, dream maybe coming true later, going to his restaurant which was HIS dream come true, where he had his engagement party, going to his space, are you getting a taste of the level of my nerves? Am I doing a good job of describing it? My hands are shaking as I type the memories.

Dave Haller had told me to be at Tropicana Field at 4:30 for batting practice Ducky’s is in Tampa so Davis came to pick me up with Manda And butch at 1:00. How on earth did I kill time? I can’t remember. That whole day is a blur. Luckily the really awesome parts stand out in high definition.

We drove to Tampa and when we arrived at Ducky’s I felt so happy. I checked in on Foursquare. Coolest checkin next to the Trop? Probably haha. Some other friends were meeting us there so we sat at a big round table. The walls were nothing but big TVs. I got a Dr. Pepper and it came in a Rays glass. How cool! Davis said there wasn’t Rays memorabilia everywhere. The glasses were a nice touch. I pictured it very understated. It was quiet but I’m sure when people gather to watch games it’s loud. It was elegant though. Chic. I asked everyone if Longoria mentions a favorite food there. Manda named a few things and the pickled crab cakes stuck out so that’s what I ordered. I wondered if I’d even be able to eat.

while we were waiting for our food we wandered over to the mini bowling. Way back on Twitter when the trip was just a dream, someone (Professor Twain?) said I should try the bowling. There was no way I wouldn’t try it! The balls you roll are like Skeeball balls. Someone put the bumpers up and you can here me whine, “noo!” Hahaha. Hear me? Oh yeah, there’s video. We each had two turns.

My first turn didn’t start out so well.

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My second turn was much better.

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We didn’t finish our whole game since our food came out and friends got there. The pickled wait not pickled. Deviled? I can’t remember, crab. Crab cakes haha. they were so good! Can’t beat crab in a coastal town. I managed to eat them all and try a piece of Manda’s candied bacon. Oh my yum! I had some of Davis’ fries too. They remind me of In and Out fries. I wondered if Evan did that on purpose with the fries since he’s from California. I took a souvenir from Ducky’s – Evan’s sauce.

There was a monkey dish of spicy sauce on my plate and right as we were nearing the end of our visit to Ducky’s I knocked the dish off and spilled it on my pants, purse and #ROTOTROP jersey. Before I could even think, the girls at the table jumped up, stripped the jersey off me and ran away. Davis was at work getting the sauce off my purse and all I could do was laugh. I had Evan’s sauce on me. Too perfect. the girls got the stain off the white jersey like living Tide stain sticks. Yay!

I visited the restroom before we left and was even impressed by that. The stalls are completely enclosed. No gaps in the doors or doors that didn’t lock. They were like little closets with glass doors. Very nice. We took Jayden to pee in the grass and then headed back to St. Pete. Oh my! Would I meet Evan?

Tina was going to meet us at the Trop since she had to work and missed out on Duckeyss. We got to the Trop early and waited around outside the gate. When it was time to go in, there was a surprise. Everyone got to go on the field with me! Originally there were only supposed to be two passes but Davis had asked Dave Haller if everyone could come inside to kill time before gates actually opened. He wasn’t expecting everyone to be allowed on the field but Dave worked his magic again so Davis, Tina and butch came with Manda and me on the field! I was so happy they could all be there!

We walked into the Trop and it was pretty cool to be the only fans inside. It was just us and the team! Oh yeah, and the bluejays haha. We were led down a ramp and passed the Rays clubhouse! We passed Alex Cobb! Alex freaking Cobb! We said hi as we passed and I was told he waved. I love Alex Cobb! Too bad he didn’t stop to chat haha.

And then we were on the field! As soon as I felt the turf under my feet I hit my needs and ran my hands over the fake grass. It felt like real grass! It was short and tight and I could feel the filler they put in. I was touching the Tropicana Field grass! We were in the area behind home plate. We weren’t alowed to go very far. There was a rope set up like they have to form lines at the bank. There was no music on yet.I started a voice note on my phone and kept my phone in my pocket. I hoped to record everything that happened down there for my memories.The place was so quiet! When you stand on the field in a dome like that you can really feel the enormity of the place. I remember noticing that at Chase Field last year.

Eventually the players started coming out for batting practice and I started meeting them! They all asked Jayden’s name and gave him love. Jayden was in puppy heaven! I think Wil Myers wanted to take him home. Manda was telling me who the guys were as they came up. I got hugs from all of them! Wil Myers, Sean Rodriguez, James Loney, Matt Joyce, Yunel Escobar, Ben Zobrist, Desmond Jennings, Jose Molina, and Logan Forsyth. Logan was the last one for me to meet that would round out the starting lineup for that night’s game. I also met reliever Joel Peralta. At one point a ball from batting practice rolled over and I had it in my hands when I met Loney and Forsyth so they both offered to sign it. Steve Carney came over and I asked for a real hug since we had only met briefly in the radio booth the night before.

Who am I forgetting? I’m forgetting someone. Tee heeeee heeeeee YES I MET EVAN LONGORIA! Video or it didn’t happen right?


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What Davis didn’t capture and I’m glad is me hitting my knees as Evan walked away and crying. He said he’d come back! I didn’t want him to walk away. I wanted to talk to him forever, to tell him that baseball saved my life and he started it and I wanted to ask him about Elle and tell him about Jayden and just talk and he walked away but I hugged him I hugged Evan Longoria!

Jayden licked my tears from my face and I stood up, pulled myself together and met more people. Players and coaches and media guys Marc topkin, Joe Smith, Roger Mooney, Todd Kalas, Dave and Andy again and Neil Solondz came over and I finally got to meet him. He also dropped a surprise on me. He wanted to interview me later for that Sunday’s episode of This Week In Rays Baseball!Whaaaaaat? Wow. Oh that wasn’t the only surprise for that day. Dave Haller had emailed me that morning to let me know to be back on the field at 6:30 for a surprise. Hmmm. I was already going to be back on the field at 6:00 because Kelly nash wanted to talk to me for TV. Neil was trying to pin me down for an interview, I had met Evan longoria, wow wow wow! Evan was supposed to come back, would he come back?


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I did get to tell him he saved my life! the picture that was taken of us was for the Times. Evan put his left arm around my shoulders and my right arm went around his waist. Luckiest girl ever! Well except maybe jaime. Jayden was on my left and that picture was in the paper. Davis cropped it for me so I could make it my Twitter profile picture. I’m told we both have big genuine smiles and look very happy. that picture captured my utter happiness. I’ll never change it!

I haven’t yet uploaded all the videos with the players but I uploaded to more two share in this post. First is my meeting with Ben Zobrist.


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He is so tall! I didn’t know that until I hugged him. He was so fun to talk to. My face hurts from grinning as I listened to that just now. What a great guy!

And my face hurts again from grinning as I listened to this next video.

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Longoria, Zobrist and Maddon were all apart of that magical 2008 season that saved my life. I got to tell Joe too! How many people from Tucson can say they stood on a major league field and talked to Joe Maddon about scouting and Mexican food? I must be the only one right? Wow. You can here how happy I was to meet Joe. What a dream! I’m so grateful there’s video or I might not believe this all happened!

Oh yay, time for lunch and a break.

I remembered while I was eating to explain why I wrote a few posts ago that on the jersey the hashtag was in all caps, #ROToTrop. I showed the jersey to Marc topkin on the field and he pronounced the hash tag so it sounded like Robocop. It was funny but maybe you had to be there.

When the Rays were done with batting practice the Jays were coming out on the field. We started discussing whether to stay on the field when someone, I can’t remember who, said we could go check out the new 360 walkway before gates opened. We did talk to one Bluejay though, Jose Bautista. He strolled over to say hi and I asked for a picture since B is a blueJays fan.

We left the field and took a walk around the Trop. They opened up the walkway so you can walk around the whole place now. It was cool to still be the only fans inside. I could hear the Jays taking BP below us. Davis pointed things out like the gong and the TV area and stuff. We ran into Enrique Oliu again. He was talking with Orestes Destrade so I got to meet him too. Sweet!

Davis and I both walk really fast so before I knew it everyone else was left behind. We ran into someone from Twitter who works at the Trop and then Tina was there. We used the ladies and then went over to see the Ray tank. I was getting a little stressed about time since I had to be back on the field to talk to Kelly Nash. The visit to the tank was a quick one. They told me to put my hand in the water straight down and the ray would graze my fingers. When it happened I jumped and squealed since I couldn’t see it swim towards me haha! There was a sink to wash hands and then we were off again, hoffing it back to the field. I had wanted to swing by the suite for some water but there wasn’t time. We were getting in the elevator and Suddenly Manda was there. Butch was off to start letting people in since we had the tickets. We walked to the edge of the barrier again and Kelly Nash came over. it was wonderful to meet her! I exclaimed at how tiny she is. She might be tiny, but she’s a force! She prepped me on the interview we would do. she asked the questions so I could start thinking about them. Then it was time to head over to the dugout. wow! Manda came with us and I was sat in a chair facing the dugout with the field behind me. Kelly sat next to us and Jayden lay down between us. Kelly started prepping me again and then Manda was there with cold water. Oh sweet relief! At one point Kelly said Matt Moore walked behind us. matt Moore! He was starting that night.

We sat for awhile and then it was time for the interview. This was live TV! kelly let me know they were talking to her through her ear piece and then she was talking to me. It was over pretty fast. It’s cool to see how that stuff works behind the scenes! When I stood, Dave Haller was there and told me I’d be throwing out the first pitch! Wow! I had wondered if maybe that was what the surprise was since the timing was right. Beyond the first pitch though, I was to be inducted into the Super Fan Hall of Fame! Dave walked Jayden and me over to two other fans who were also getting inducted and handed me a ball. I remembered my pitching lesson with Adam Pendleton the day before and gripped the ball to throw a four seamer haha! They told me I’d be throwing the ball to Raymond, the Rays mascot. I could hear that the Trop was filling in and then the PA guy, I’m sure it was rusty, introduced each of us and told a little of our stories. There had been no preparation in my head for this haha! Cheers and cowbells rained down on us and we threw our pitches. Raymond missed the ball haha. I can’t remember who was there to tell me. Dave Haller? manda? Raymond came up to me and I think they got a picture of us. Talk about a blur! Jayden was like what is that thing and why is it hugging you? Then we were leaving the field. “Bye Field,” I said wistfully.

I was oh so ready to sit down in the suite and drink some water. It wasn’t over yet though. As we approached the suite, Neil Solondz was there ready to do my interview. We stood in the hall outside the suite as the game was starting. After the interview I mentioned having told Dave and Andy I’d stop by and bring cookies and Neil walked me to the booth. I had the first pitch ball with me and decided I would have everyone sign it. Dave and Andy were happy to see me again and during a break they wanted pictures. I asked them to sign the ball. I think I had Dave Haller sign it there too. It was tough to leave the booth again. the emotions of the day started welling big time and leaving Dave and andy was the cincher. I could feel tears spring to my eyes.

We were walking towards the suite and I was trying not to cry. I had a whole new group of people to meet that night and I was excited. Someone said my name and it was Professor Twain! That was it. I started bawling. Great way to meet someone for the first time eh? I through myself into his arms and my tears soaked his Tampa Smokies Jersey. Mrs. T was there too and we decided to take Jayden out for a potty break. He’d done a lot too! We almost lost Mrs. T coming back inside. Security stopped her. What? We called back to them that she was with us and they let her go. Crazy.

Finally we made it up and into the suite and I got to meet the others. Ed and his wife are from England and they brought me a bunch of British goodies! Not just for me either, goodies for Jayden, too! ed’s wife was telling me what everything was and I got a kick out of her saying “biscuits”. She’s so very British! That was a little later in the evening after I’d rested from the day and chugged water. I also desperately needed coffee which the suite didn’t have, so Ed ran out and got me a cup. Yay, friends!

I didn’t even use my radio during this game. Professor Twain sat next to me doing play-by-play. It was awesome! We thought we were going to be on the jumbotron for the seventh inning stretch but since I wasn’t with the other super fan hall of fame people, we weren’t. that was fine by me! There had been so much excitement that day, I’m not sure I could have handled more.

Mrs. T and I went and checked out the team store on the suite fllor. We had our own freaking team store! Butch came with us to by a hat. Mrs. T bought me a Longo shirt and a baseball bracelet! I swear I hardly spent any of my own money on that trip. While we were in the store I heard Metallica playing and knew that would be Grant Balfour coming into the game. Darnit, I was bummed to miss him. The Rays lost that night but they got him in for some work.

I was sad to leave the suite. It had been home for three games. They even let us keep stuff in there, like Jayden’s mat and stuff. A lot of pictures were taken with me and friends and Jayden and then it was time to go. “Bye suite, “I said wistfully.

What an amazing day! I’d be back the next day as a normal fan, sitting in normal seats. That hadn’t been the original plan, but I couldn’t be in St. Pete while the Rays were playing and not be at the Trop. So it was bye field and bye suite, but not bye Trop yet!

When I got back to my room I called B and got ready to pass out.

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Tampa Bay Trip – Day Four: Ferg’s and the Radio Booth

First let me thank Josh Groban for “cleansing my pallet” (my listening pallet?) so I could focus on happy memories. I’m currently reading the new Stephen King book and I had let it sour my mood. Music saved the day this morning, yay!

So Tuesday April 1, 2014. This day ranks right on top of all of the days. A bunch of us met at Ferg’s Sports Bar before the game. One can’t visit from away and not do the Ferg’s thing. I had been looking forward to it for months! Our group even had our own section reserved! The red carpet treatment was everywhere! I am just me, right?

I had slept great the night before thank goodness. So I was well rested and fresh. It was awesome to experience Ferg’s, a place I had heard so much about. It’s really cool. There’s different levels and wood floors that sound cool to walk on. There’s plenty of outdoor seating and that’s where our section was. The actual bar area is where the music is so it was quieter outside. I hear it gets pretty crazy at night after games so I was glad we went beforehand.

I was craving a burger with fries and an iced tea. I can’t remember what it was called, but I got a burger with blue cheese and bacon. It reminded me of a burger I used to get at The Diner, before it closed. It tasted similar too! Unfortunately I couldn’t eat it all. Nerves! I mean really?

Hanging out at Ferg’s was so relaxing. Hearing happy voices around me, music, fellow Rays fans, it was the best!

One of the people who was there was Adam Pendleton. He had been signed by the Rays and reported to Spring Training and was so interesting to talk to! It was like an inside look at Spring Training! I don’t remember how we got on the subject of pitching grips but if I had been anticipating what would happen next, my nerves would have ratcheted up even more!


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Thanks Davis for taking the video and having a spare baseball in the car! Adam signed the ball for me and it is now in a protective display box. That experience was going to be hard to top! The video didn’t capture Adam explaining the two and four seem fastballs but those were the easiest pitches to remember haha.

I had an idea about how a split finger was held thanks to Dave and Andy a few years back describing it on air and explaining how that can be tender around the elbow joint. I remember trying it, without a baseball, just spreading my index and middle fingers apart as far as they would go and it definitely hurt.

I remember asking B what a knuckleball was when I was first starting to study baseball and he showed me with a tennis ball. Those were my two experiences with pitching grips before I met Adam. Thanks to my Twitter friend Eric, for bringing your awesome son!

the food came after that and I was midway through when my friend Kaitlyn arrived. Did we scream? I can’t remember. She is my YOUNGIFIER on Twitter and that translated perfectly in person. She is like the sister I never had and I adore her!!!

After we settled up at Ferg’s, we were set to walk to the park. Ferg’s is across the street from Tropicana Field and there is a walkway under the street. So cool! It goes right up to the main gate.

I had Jayden’s dinner with me and Manda, Kaitlyn and I stopped along the way to feed and relieve the boy. I was giving everyone human guide lessons and today was kaitlyn’s turn haha. We met up with her mom outside the gate, went through security and into the main gate. I got a little panicky in there because there were tons of echoes. Echoes mess with my hearing which messes with my spatial reasoning. At the blind center here, they have foam “art” that gets rid of echoes. I don’t like echoes haha. Kaitlyn and I hustled it to the elevator. There was a picture of Jeremy Hellickson in the elevator and Kaitlyn is the biggest Helli fan alive. It was too funny!

Dave Haller had let me know that one of the Spanish radio broadcasters, Enrique Oliu, and his wife Debbie would be waiting for me in the suite. As soon as we walked in, he was there! Enrique is also blind . He’s got a great story! It was great to talk with him. When I said I would be visiting Dave and Andy during the game, he told me to be sure to stop by the Spanish booth.

Oh did I forget to mention that? Yep, I was scheduled to visit Dave {Wills} and Andy {Freed} in the radio booth during the third inning! I met them in Arizona last year when the Rays played the DBacks, but I was so excited to see them again and be in the booth!

We settled in to get ready for the game. Kaitlyn was on my right and I have to wonder if people thought we were a bit crazy hehehe. We had so much fun together! She truly is my YOUNGIFIER. I got to be my unbridled silly self with her. I tend to tone my silliness down. Most adults tone their silliness down. I guess I’m Peter Pan at heart.

She kept gazing at Hellickson in the Rays dugout haha. It was just too awesome. Oh and guess who else came by the suite? Tiffany! She’s the woman who keeps David Price in line. I’ve talked to her quite a bit on Twitter and it was so wonderful to meet her! I’m so glad she came by!

Dave Haller came to take me to the radio booth. Excited! Davis came with to get pictures and video. the radio booth was on the same floor as the suite and not far away. We got there and I could hear them talking as we stood outside the door to the booth. I had just been listening to them on my littler radio and there they were, in front of me! We stood silent until the second inning ended and as soon as they went to commercial they got up and came over to hug me. Happy reunion! There were two steps down to their desk and they were both very helpful helping me get to the seat they rolled over between them for me to sit. I got Jayden settled between them and Dave stuck a set of headphones on my head. I could hear the commercials. Dave was on my left, Andy on my right and I told them that’s how I always imagined them. I asked if they had ever mentioned that but they didn’t know. Later I figured out that the reason I probably always pictured them that way is because Dave is a lefty.

The top of the third inning started and I heard Dave and Andy in my headphones as I sat between them. What. An. Experience! Rays Radio emailed me a copy and told me I could share it, so so click to listen if you like. During the commercial break we talked and I met Steve Carney finally, getting an awkward hug.

I had forgotten to bring the cookies I was going to bring to the booth so they told me to come back the next day. Yes please! There were hugs all around and then I stopped by next door to listen to the Spanish broadcast. I don’t speak Spanish but I was pretty sure I heard “bonita” and “perro”. So I think they were saying I had a pretty dog haha. I recognize some words. Sometimes if the 620 WDAE feed is having problems in Gameday audio, I’ll tune into the Spanish broadcast just to keep an idea of what’s going on. Even when you only know one percent of the Spanish language, it’s amazing what you can pick up when you are a dedicated student of the game.

It was awesome to talk to Adam during the game and ask him what he thought was wrong with Alex Cobb. Cobb just wasn’t sharp on the second game of the season. It was too cool to talk the game with someone who had seriously played it. The rest of the game I was silly with Kaitlyn, mingled with my other friends and cheered the Rays to their first loss of the season. I definitely enjoyed the experience, if not the outcome.

I feel like I’m missing something. Wednesday was the truly crazy day so maybe my mind is already focusing on that haha! I might take a break and finish this trip remembrance Monday and give my arms a break. Though I don’t want to lose the momentum, so we shall see.

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Tampa Bay Trip – Day Three: Don Zimmer and Opening Day

My feelings as I mentally map this post are mixed. Today is the day I write the Opening Day post. My First Opening Day and Don Zimmer’s last. He passed away peacefully last night and the evening became full of Don Zimmer memories from all over baseball. My eyes would dry and then another tweet would come through with another story, Dave and Andy would call a play and tell a story, pictures were imagined, Zim with Longoria’s fiance Jaime and baby Elle, Zim on the golf course with Jackie Robinson, my eyes were in a constant state of damp. The post-game show was a Life and Times of Don Zimmer and when they played the interview with Joe Maddon tearing up I couldn’t hold back the sobs. At the end of the show they interviewed Longoria and the heartbreak in his voice rang like a ball squared up just right before sailing out of the park. He and Zim were very close as was the entire Rays organization. Zim was their senior baseball advisor for the last eleven years. This was his sixty-sixth season in baseball.

This morning I read many wonderful articles about this baseball icon and I would like to share a few before I get to recounting my experience on Opening Day.

Don Zimmer, a baseball icon who was one of us, dies at 83 – Tampa Bay Times

Rays advisor Don Zimmer, widely seen as a baseball treasure, dies – Tampa Bay Times

Statement from Don Zimmer’s Family – Tampa Bay Times

Don Zimmer Tributes – Tampa Bay Times

Don Zimmer simply loved baseball – ESPN (Autoplaying media)

Don Zimmer was baseball icon: had fans everywhere, even an unusual place – Arizona Daily Star

I obviously did not know Don Zimmer. I heard several people last night say they could imagine him smacking them upside the heads and telling them to get on with it and call the game/play the game write about the game so that is what I will now do. It was not lost on me last night that I was due to write about my first Opening Day which was also Don Zimmer’s last.

So the morning of Opening Day 2014 wasn’t separated from March 30 by even a wink of sleep. Was it excitement that kept me awake all night? The fact that I had a sixty-five pound dog with me in the double bed? Jet lag? Looking back I’m sure it was a combination of all of it.

I was laying in bed when I heard the first seagulls start screaming. I remember laying there, checking my phone , thinking I should stay in bed and rest since I hadn’t slept but it was Opening Day!

I made some lukewarm coffee before feeding Jayden. I decided I would take him out on my own since Manda wouldn’t be at my room until around 10:30. Jayden found his litter box just fine but then we couldn’t find the room again. We walked around for awhile, not having much luck. The kids weren’t in the pool yet which was too bad since that was a great sound source. Luckily a jogger came buy and I called out when I heard the footsteps and heavy breathing. He stopped to help and I told him what room I was in. I didn’t like the idea of giving a passerby my room number but when I had tried to call the hotel, I got no answer. What was I supposed to do?

“This must be horrible for you,” he said as he led us to the pool area.

“No one likes getting lost,” I said. Um. Wow. Too late I wished I had launched into this amazing experience that was happening because I went blind. That was such a long story and honestly when the sighted say things like that, it’s just their own fear coming out. It wasn’t that he was saying it was horrible for me, he was saying it would be horrible if it happened to him. He probably didn’t know that was what he meant, but that’s what he meant. but I’m getting way off topic.

I thanked him for his help. (At least he didn’t try to take my arm or Jayden’s harness) I decided I might as well get ready for the day. Manda was going to bring Egg McMuffins! I showered in the tiny bathroom. How good that hot water felt. It was very odd to be standing in the shower and hear seagulls outside the window. Wouldn’t that have been a scary scene in The Birds? Ooh ooh The Birds and Psycho mashup!

By the time Manda got to my room I was in pretty ugly shape. Starbucks instant coffee on an empty stomach and no sleep is a very bad combination. Oh and nerves. Gee I wonder what exacerbated those? Lukewarm coffee anyone? We can’t forget the nerves. I remember telling her that I was being a bitch and apologizing and her saying something like this is you being a bitch? It was all rather blurry at that point.

The game was starting at 4:10. I remember having to tell myself not to convert it to Arizona time. Davis and Butch were going to pick us up at the hotel at 1:00 I think. We wanted to get there when the gates opened. Why did we leave so early? I don’t remember.

Butch! He was the next friend for me to meet and I couldn’t wait! We talked quite a bit on Twitter.

After I ate my egg McMuffins I felt a little better. Manda had brought a blue beaded necklace and some blue bracelets for me to where. I dressed in jeans and one of my new Rays Tank tops. I had gotten my hair cut into a bob before leaving so it was quick and easy to style and the stylist had put this blue chalk stuff in my hair. I was ready!

When the guys got to the room I met butch and we all started to get ready to go. We took Jayden to his litter box, piled into the Ro To Trop Mobile and hit the road. As soon as the car began to move I could feel myself relax. All the preparation had come down to this and we were on our way!

Thanks to the Rays, my group had parking passes and tickets to the luxury suite the team had given me for the first three games. Back when we planned the trip, I didn’t know the opening series was a four game series, so I had only planned on going to the first three. Davis’ wife Tina had to work so she would be meeting us at the Trop.

Aside:

I’m listening to the pre-game show and they just replayed Joe Maddon’s interview from last night. It’s a rare 4:10 pm EST start today, a Thursday, and I’m writing about a game that began at 4:10 EST on March 31. some of this is getting weird. Awww Joe and Dave choked me up all over again and then I laughed when Dave echoed the sentiment I wrote above about getting on with it and writing the post.

End aside.

Davis dropped us off near gate 4. That was the gate closest to the suite and where we had planned to meet up with Dave Haller, the Rays Director of Communications, who had organized my red carpet treatment. He did a tremendous job! Thank you for everything, Dave!

When I got out of the car I heard upbeat music. Immediately I felt the celebratory energy. The weather was perfect and I was at the Trop! I was so happy to check in on Foursquare haha.

We were there before doors opened so we stood around and talked while I took it all in. I asked if there was one of those planes flying around dragging a banner. Those are unmistakeable even when they aren’t seen. The music continued. Every so often there was someone talking on a loud speaker and distant cheers. The party was at the main gate, not where we were, which was fine by me. There were people milling around but it wasn’t loud.

I heard cheering closer and was told the Fox Sports Florida girls were nearby. You should have heard it when they saw Jayden. How can I describe this? Ok you know when you’re watching college football and the broadcast comes back from commercial and they lead in with the cheerleaders crowding around the camera and cheering? It was that. The girls swarmed me and cooed and then I was taking a picture with them and then some guy came up and they were gone. Talk about surreal. I think I’m going to set up an Instagram account just to post all these photos.

Aside:

9-6 Marlins. Are the Rays coming back? I finally went back to working on this post as a distraction.

End aside.

Soon after a male voice introduced himself and said he was from a news station. Wha? I plastered a movie star smile on as he asked if he and his camera guy could follow me inside and up to the suite and then ask me a few Questions. Um, Sure? Haha!

Julie, when did I meet you? Before or after all this? Ok I was going to write when I met every single person but that will give me grey hairs so just know you were all incredibly important to me haha! (Julie tweeted me May 6 after the Rays win and reminded me how I met her. After the media guys walked away I heard someone say hi to Jayden. “Who knows Jayden?” I asked, and that’s how we met. As soon as I read her tweet it came back to me so I had to edit this post for memory’s sake. By the end of the trip, lots of people called out Jayden’s name, but Julie was the first!)

The newsman and camera guy walked away and soon after Dave Haller was there. Dave!!! He had my personalized jersey with him! I had known the Rays were going to give me a jersey but had completely forgotten. It has the Number 3 on the back for Evan Longoria and the name is the trip’s hashtag, #RoToTrop. Actually i found out later that it’s in all caps. #ROTOTROP. That is important in a future post. If a person didn’t read this post, they won’t get the joke. Bwah ha ha! Dave talked to us briefly and then said he would meet us inside the gate when doors opened. The newsman and camera guy were back not long after.

“Where’d you get that jersey?” the newsman asked. I explained. “Would you mind taking it off and putting it back on so we can film it?”

That really happened. It really did. I had put the jersey on unbuttoned on top of my tank top. I did as he asked so they could create their broadcast. I think the broadcast is online somewhere. I’ll try and get those details before I post this. Ok Heather to the rescue hours later. The segment is here. She said there are two links, and you have to click an arrow to get to mine. It’s so not blind friendly.

(9-6 Miami in the 8th)

Finally the gates opened! We went through the security check and the woman said she was calling ahead to my section to let them know a service dog was coming. I was aware of the camera crew behind me but I just tried to focus on walking into the Trop for the first time. Just after we walked in the doors I heard my name. It was Dave Haller and he was telling me someone was there waiting for me but I didn’t hear him.

“Who?”

Brandon Gomes.”

I don’t remember the sound I made but it was probably that sound you make in your throat when you are shocked . Then I was hugging him. My first Ray! I was laughing with happiness and I could hear people all around and then my friends wanted pictures so we posed and I got to keep touching him, haha! I wanted a picture with my phone so I could post on Facebook for my friends and Family. I bent over trying to hear my phone so I could bring up the camera and hand it off. I remember Brandon Gomes saying, “she’s pretty good with that thing.” *Squeal* I was no longer mentally thirty-five. I was fifteen meeting a player from my favorite baseball team. Was this really happening? All too soon I had to leave Mr. Gomes who I started calling “my lover”. I don’t know why hahaha! Maybe because I unabashedly kept touching him?

We had to go up in an elevator. Did you know they have elevator attendants? So cool! We got to the floor where the suite was and walked down a narrow hall. I suddenly had the fear that Jayden would do something really bad and it would be caught on camera. I was aware that everything i said to him was being recorded. Weird!

When we got to the suite Jayden turned right and we started exploring. On the wall where the door was, there was a sink. This was the back of the suite and there were bar tables with barstool chairs. There was a table with hotdogs and fixins and there were sodas and bottled waters. Towards the front of the suite, there were two rows of stadium seats. These couldn’t be accessed from the right side. The room was enclosed on three sides with the front being completely open to the field. Along the front row of seats was a handy shelf to set drinks. I made my way to the left side of the suite and there were two steps to go down to reach the front row of seats. I went down the steps and stood at the bottom, thinking about the fact that the field where my beloved team plays was right down there! The suite was along the left field line behind third base where Longoria plays and up a few levels. The Rays dugout is on the first base line so the sightlings could look into the dugout.

The newsman was there all of the sudden asking if he could interview me so my friends and I could enjoy the suite. thinking back on this, it’s still almost not believable. This kind of stuff doesn’t happen to me! I don’t remember what he asked me exactly. Something about how I became a Rays fan, how long I had been blind (“since she couldn’t see”), etc etc. I was instantly roasting under the light they shined in my face and I bumped the mic at one point while gesturing with my hands.

After they left I needed water. Someone went and got me a bottle and Manda was showing me the nice spot next to the first chair on the first row of seats. It was a perfect spot for Jayden. I put his mat down and had him settle there and I sat in the chair, taking off the jersey top so I could cool off. What a whirlwind!

I think Manda and I took Jayden to find the relieving area before the game started. Davis and Butch were busy running tickets down to other people who would be joining us in the suite. There was a nice fenced off area with grass for Jayden. Grass? Wow. Haha. He had also used a grassy patch near a tree back before we had gone into the Trop. He left his mark everywhere.

We made sure to be back inside for the festivities . They would be raising the 2013 Wild Card banner. I didn’t want to miss any of the Opening Day ceremony.

I got all settled into my seat with my jersey back on, my little radio and cowbell at the ready, Jayden wearing his Mutt Muffs and waited for everything to begin.

The first thing was that they did a bunch of video and audio highlights. It was so cool to hear things I had heard so many times at home coming through the speakers at Tropicana Field. The stadium rang with the clanking of cowbells. I wonder if I ever stopped smiling.

I can’t remember what made me decide to record a voice memo but I’m so glad I did. I got a recording of the National Anthems, both Oh Canada and the Star Spangled Banner. On the recording is the announcement of the entire Rays “staff” if you will. Right before the starting lineup, Don Zimmer was introduced and the place went wild. He was there down by the dugout in a golf cart, and as each player left the field the player stopped and talked to Zim. I am so grateful I was in the same building as a living legend.

If you would like to hear this voice memo, click here. I listened to it this morning and am totally embarrassed by how I sound but that is the sound of unbridled joy. Even though it makes me blush, I’m so glad I have it and I’m happy to share. Warning, the cowbells and screaming is quite loud haha! Listen at your own risk.

I had pointed to where I thought everything would be on the field and got confirmation from a sightling. As the game began I put on my radio and listened to Dave And Andy just like I would at home, my head turned toward where I heard the action go. I was in the zone, listening to my radio guys, listening to the barking sound effects from District K-9 when Price got a strike-out. I heard beer and ice cream calls in person that I always hear on the radio and I heard the whistling of Yunel Escobar at short. I was there. It was Opening Day and I was at Tropicana Field. I was the luckiest damn girl in the world.

If you managed to listen to that voice memo, you heard my friend Tina saying I was making her and Butch cry in the row behind me. I was full of good emotions and the music that played when the banner was raised was the soundtrack of my happiness. Until Evan Longoria came to bat, of course. There is nothing like hearing those electric violins loud and in person. I could feel the base in my heart as the song and man that started it all came to the plate. I can’t remember if he got a hit. I want to say he did but maybe that’s just the romantic in me.

One of the friends I got to meet in the suite that night was Aviatrixx (her Twitter name). She brought her three year-old daughter with her. She had asked me before I left Tucson what she and her daughter could bring for Jayden. I told her I trusted Nylabone and Goughnut products so she gave me a Romp and Chomp. This thing is so cool! It’s a Nylabone with a space inside to put what looks like a Slim Jim inside. It was the perfect gift for a dog who was bored at a baseball game! He loved it and there were enough refills for the rest of the games and some “O bones” as I started calling them when we got home. I need to order some refills for his birthday next month. Thank you, Aviatrixx!

Nothing else specific stands out about the game. R.A. Dickey pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays and the Rays won. I do remember it wasn’t a close game so it wasn’t tense. It was just plain old fun! My record for Rays games attended was now 1-3. It was my second David Price start. He is now 1-1 in games I’ve attended hehe..

When we got back to the hotel, everyone hung out for a bit while I fed and relieved Jayden. After they left I hung out on Twitter a bit, did a good foam roll session, called B, listened to my book and fell into a blessed sleep. I hope my next Opening Day is well rested!

(The Rays lost today’s game.)

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Tampa Bay Trip – Day Two

Ok, so day two of the trip of a lifetime. This day was supposed to be a recovery day after traveling. It’s a good thing I planned a recovery day in case I needed it, but I didn’t need it. I must have slept hard after staying up late the night before talking with Manda. The Starbucks iced mocha after I landed in Tampa was probably partly to blame for staying up late haha. I would have slept later if not for the seagulls. Did you know those birds scream in the mornings? wow. Oh and my room was right next to the pool. And there were a lot of kids staying at the hotel. The combination of seagulls and kids screaming makes it pretty impossible to sleep too late. It’s a wonder I slept as long as I did. Thank you, ear plug.

I got up and for once Jayden didn’t get excited the second I got out of bed. I could imagine him laying on the bed, opening one eye to look at me and then deciding he was on vacation and didn’t need to budge. I used the coffee maker in the room to warm up water to make my Starbucks instant coffee. That is the best way to avoid nasty hotel coffee. At least it usually is. The coffee maker didn’t make very hot water so I woke up with some lukewarm coffee and checked email and Twitter on the iPad.

I had made plans with Davis for that morning. I had asked if he could bring Egg McMuffins since I can never get to a McDonald’s before they stop serving breakfast. Foiled again though, since I didn’t wake up until around 10am. Why couldn’t those meddling kids have woken me up earlier?

Davis came buy anyway because he wanted to see how Voiceover works on my iOS devices. Davis is blind in one eye and since meeting me, some of the fear of losing his good eye has gone. It was good for him to see how technology still works for me. I showed him some of the apps I use that help me identify objects and color and text. He’ll just need to switch to iOS from Android haha. Though I hear Android is making great strides in accessibility.

After the technology demo I was feeling a little hungry so Davis and I went to downtown St. Petersburg. I had decided I wanted to try the Tijuana Flats place he goes to all the time. The weather was absolutely beautiful! There was some car rase going on downtown and when I opened the car door I was greeted by the distant whine of racecars! So cool! Oh we had also driven by Tropicana Field. I’d finally be there the next day!

When we went to the counter they all knew Davis by name and after he introduced me, one of the girls started calling me Arizona. Nice! Like Alabama in the Quentin Tarantino movies!

I ordered nachos and got a plate big enough for Hagrid to eat. I check in on Foursquare where Davis is the mayor so in the comment on the checkin I wrote, “Lunch with the Mayor”. I think my dad thought I meant the actual mayor haha!

I don’t have a picture, but I VandalEyesed the napkin dispenser.

After we ate we walked over to Starbucks so I could get more of the Via instant coffee. It turns out the ones I bought in Tucson with my friend Lori were not the right kind even though Lori specifically tried to make sure they were. The barista had kept trying to give me decaf. The ones I finally got were caffeinated but they turned out to be the iced coffee blend, which I didn’t know until Manda read the package at the hotel. All that joking Lori and I did about my Florida friends not wanting to see me decaffeinated and I still ended up with the wrong coffee. So we got the right stuff and Davis drove back to Treasure Island.

We took Jayden to his litter box and then decided to walk down to the water. I took a couple videos. Too bad the iPhone can’t block wind sound. That’s loud! The first one is a little over two minutes as we were walking. I’m holding the phone so I bet it’s bouncy haha. The second one is about 45 seconds with feet in the water. I tried to get Jayden reacting to the waves.


Direct youtube link #1

Direct youtube link #2

The sand there is not like what I’m used to. It’s not fine like the sand in San Diego. There’s a lot of history about the Treasure Island beach that Manda told me about the night before but I can’t remember the details. There’s actually plants and trees on the beach which I can’t even begin to fathom. The waves didn’t roar like they do in SanDiego since Treasure Island is on the bay. I didn’t feel the power and enormity like I did in San Diego. It’s a gentle tied. It’s like a different world!

After Davis left I hung around for a little bit and then Manda came over so we could write in the cards I got from the Guide Dogs for the Blind store to put the tickets to the suite. I had the suite schedule for each of the three nights so I would tell Manda who the card was for and how many tickets and she’d describe the puppy pictures on the cards. It was good times! I told her what to write in the cards and several times I got emotional. The enormity of the trip had finally sunk in. Tomorrow I would be going to the Trop for the first time and I’d be meeting even more people. I was suddenly exhausted!

I don’t know how we got through all those cards. We took a break at one point and ordered Cheesesteak delivery.

Manda organized the cards into piles so we could keep them all straight. I don’t remember what time we finished and called it a night. I just remember being exhausted from getting so emotional. I thought I would sleep like the dead. I didn’t sleep at all. I rotated between trying to sleep, listening to my book, checking Twitter, but no sleep. How was I going to manage Opening Day on no sleep?

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