Disney World at 50… My Memories

Here come a bunch of thoughts/memories in celebration of Disney World being 50-years old this year. Please keep your hands and arms inside the vehicle! ¡Por favor mantenganse alejado de las puertas!

December 31, 2021

I am watching the ResortTV1 Live Stream at EPCOT. There are DJ Dance Parties all around World Showcase. It’s crazy!

DJ Dance Party in Italy – 12-31-21

I watched the New Year’s Eve celebration at the Magic Kingdom last night (they do 2 nights of it) and it was wild seeing the MK rocking out to dance music! (Tristan corrected me and said it is called EDM Music now. Yanking me into the new millennium!)

This is what it looked like at the end of the fireworks show. Spectacular!!!

MK New Year’s Eve Celebration (a day early) 12-30-21

I’ve been scanning more pictures and putting them on SmugMug (the best photo storage place ever) and can across one I had been looking for forever.

Tristan and me, November 21, 1982 … with Mickey!

Could my glasses be any bigger? Look how long my nails were! Clearly, I was not typing on anything yet. And I was so, so, so tired. I had no business dragging my new baby and my newly postpartum ass to the Magic Kingdom, but I was just as obsessed about Disney then as now.

Back then, running into characters was a hit or miss thing. There were never announcements or special locations to find them, so to run into so many characters that day with Tristan was so cool! Especially this one with Mickey!

December 24, 2021

  • I first went to EPCOT September 28, 1982, during one of the preview days. I was hugely pregnant with my first (he was born October 20, 1982) so technically, he was at a Disney Park before he was even born!
1st look at EPCOT September 28, 1982.
Inside the Land September 28, 1982.
  • It’s really weird seeing people wearing masks at Disney Parks. I am rarely out so they are still foreign to me. Others have said it looks weirder when people do not have them. I suppose I will get there, too. I have to say, it does make me happy to know Disney still takes COVID seriously. I would wear my mask everywhere, not just inside rides, but that’s just me. I can only attend to my own safety. I am willing to bet I will wear a mask every day now forevermore. Remember how we used to roll our eyes at the Japanese tourists who wore masks all the time? Look who’s eye-rolling now.

December 23, 2021

I am finally getting back to blogging. It’s been awhile and having to let go of a lot of things to get some work done. I totally missed NaNoWriMo, wrote on Day 1 and then dropped it to get work done. I am having a great time with work, so that is good, but it is time consuming.

BACK to DISNEY WORLD!

  • I discovered a Live Stream of Disney Parks from Josh and Jenna, a brother and sister who call themselves ResortTV1. I accidentally came across them in Instagram, as a recommendation, and that night they were doing the first Candlelight Processional after the pandemic began. I had to watch and it was amazing! I told mom and my youngest daughter Aimee and we all watched together. It was great. We’ve watched the Candlelight Processional as a family for as long as they have been having them (the began in 1994).
A photo I took years ago of the Candlelight Processional in EPCOT.

Now I am in love with ResortTV1! Their Live Stream is so wonderful because they stop talking when on rides. Not everyone has that courtesy. Thanks Josh and Jenna! You now have a fan!

  • Memory when watching Retro Disney World Josh did as I watching IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. I loved that music and downloaded it onto (what is now an ancient) iPod. Months and months later, after listening to it dozens of times, I had a client who needed to have her baby before she could even go home and get her things and she was most upset she didn’t have her Reflections of Earth music. I laughed and pulled out my iPod with headphones and she listened to it during her cesarean. We thought that was the craziest thing ever. Who would have guessed a midwife being a doula would have something so obscure, IN SAN DIEGO, as Reflections of Earth from Orlando’s EPCOT at Disney World on her iPod?
Photo I took of IllumiNations

  • I wonder how many videos I am in from being in the parks so much over the years.
  • I just learned they removed my Dancing Fountains (aka Fountain of Nations). The last show was on September, 7, 2019. You can see how out of touch I have been with my Disney Self. I am immersing myself again and it feels good. I used to dance like crazy when Yanni’s Standing in Motion played and wonder if people recorded the crazy fat lady dancing like a banshee to a fountain.
Photo I took of “My” Dancing Fountains.
Another angle of “My” Dancing Fountains.
  • Looking at these Live Streams, I see how much things have changed since I was last there about 3 years ago… maybe 4. I was sad to not see the Christmas Arch in EPCOT from the Dancing Fountains to the Christmas Tree next to the World Showcase Lagoon.
Photo by Disney Addicts
From Disney Tourist Blog

October 1, 2021

  • For years before WDW opened, there was the Walt Disney World Preview Center in Lake Buena Vista between 535 and down what was then called Preview Center Road. It opened in January 1970 and closed right before WDW opened in 1971. In that year, we had to have visited it more than a dozen times. I have in the recesses of my memory, every word of the spiel.
  • Here is one of the many pics I have taken of the Preview Center over the years. I remember being there, dirt road out front, as if it was yesterday.
  • I stepped into the Magic Kingdom when I was 10-years old. It was a couple of months old. I remember it like it was yesterday. I can see Cinderella Castle at the end of Main Street. The place was pristine. Magical does not begin to describe that memory.
A photo I took from the catwalk outside California Grill at the top of the Contemporary Resort.
  • My mom started working at Walt Disney World (WDW) in 1973 at the Pueblo Room at the Contemporary Resort. The Pueblo Room was where George Kalogridis also got his start as a busboy. My mom, a seater, worked with George for several years. He is now the President of Segment Development and Enrichment for Disney Parks, Experiences and Products (whatever that is).
  • Because mom worked there, we got in free. This was when tickets were a thing, but there were rides that didn’t need one and we went on them a lot.
  • This is a WDW Tickets in 1973 site.
  • One of my faves was If You Had Wings. There was never any line and it was ice cold inside. Looking at the video, I am reminded of the growing hanging fish… and the people in the waterfall. Wow.
  • We went to River Country a lot. That was on Bay Lake (a natural lake, whereas the Seven Seas Lagoon is man-made) by the campground, Ft. Wilderness. Early on, and for a long time that I can remember, there were no alligators (that we knew about or saw) in Bay Lake. We used to swim in the lake a lot and there were and swimming races by Discovery Island, across from the Contemporary in Bay Lake, early on, too. We knew about the amoeba early on (Naegleria fowleri) but until several people died from the primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, the warning about swimming in lakes in the summer were rare. Now we know much more.
Bay Lake behind the Contemporary Resort.
  • When we went to the Magic Kingdom when my mom was working, as it got close to her getting off work, we would hang out in the arcade on the ground floor of the Contemporary Resort. It is still there, but much larger now. We did not have arcades back in the olden days, so this was fascinating. I cannot imagine my parents giving us much money to spend, but I do remember playing air hockey, probably on someone else’s dime.
  • How did we find people who were lost in the park? How did we do this without cell phones? I can’t even remember. My mom says we had to meet at certain places at certain times and BE THERE or else. I guess we found each other. I know where everyone is tonight!
A photo I took of the welcome arch.
  • I remember when Space Mountain went so fast they had to slow it down when someone got hurt. Sitting one in front of the other? No thank you!
  • Ahhh, the Buckets… the Sky Ride. I loved that thing so much once I got on them. I was scared for years, but once I finally climbed in, it was great! Wonderful place to make-out.
  • Speaking of making-out, when one was at the Magic Kingdom (MK) at night, there were tons of places to get naughty with a boyfriend or girlfriend. How was there ever a time without cameras everywhere? I liked by the Liberty Tree Tavern… very dark there.
  • Tomorrowland Terrace. Remember the eccentric Michael Iceberg? He was fascinating with his musical computer!
  • I also saw Maynard Ferguson and other jazz musicians on the Tomorrowland Terrace stage. So much fun with my band friends.
  • Grad Nights! I don’t know how I got to go to so many Grad Nights, but I went to several. Here is a list of the performers for Grad Nights from 1972-2008. I graduated in 1979, but know I was at other people’s Grad Nights, too. Tickets were expensive! 1972, they were $9. Get a look at the Dress Code. HA!
  • I knew the MK so well, I could do tours and did. Later, I went with a couple of families who were on vacation and photographed them, allowing everyone in the family to be in the pics. I took some great shots! Do I still have them? Nope.
Photo I took from Liberty Square.
  • I do have some of the (now missing) thousands and thousands of pictures I took at Disney World during my Rec.Arts.Disney.Parks (Radp) days. I need a separate blog just for all the posts I have from there.
  • We took Tristan to WDW when he was 4 weeks old. Here are a few pics of him. How tired do I look in my 1982 giant glasses? I should have been home nursing my newborn! I tried nursing in the Baby Care Center… lovely with rocking chairs in a darkened room that was cold and cozy. I had a hard time nursing in bed. The rocking chair was nigh on impossible. My boobs were so swollen!
Tristan and Me at the Magic Kingdom November 21, 1982.
  • Remember the Year of a Million Dreams? 2006-2008. I love this pic of a monorail I took. The moon high above.
  • Here’s an early monorail leaving the Contemporary Resort.
  • Oh my god, do you remember the hoopla surrounding when the “Fry Cart” was coming into the Magic Kingdom in Frontierland? If you were in online Disney groups in 1996, you will. If we had known it would be gone by 2008, I wonder if we would have had such heated discussions. I love McDonald’s fries, so I was all for the fry cart.
  • Do you remember when Tape Art came to the 2nd floor of the Contemporary Resort? I happened upon it accidentally and let the Radp group know Michael Townsend and Erica Duthie were decorating the hotel, inside and out. I LOVED the Tape Art! Here’s Meghann and Aimee after their own creations… while imitating what they made!
  • Here’s one of my fave pics I took of Cinderella Castle from the top of the Contemporary Resort.
  • Another Castle pic I took. Same vantage point.
  • And a few moments later, when the Castle changed colors.
  • The 5-Legged Goat on the wall closest to the monorail going through the center of the Contemporary Resort. When riding, I would always make sure to show it off. I told parents if they looked at it, their kids would not cry all day. The craned their necks.
  • This next one is Tristan and Meghann behind the Contemporary Resort when they were 3 and 9 months respectively, in 1985. Mickey sunglasses. Go, Tristan!
  • Meghann on her 21st Birth Day in 2005. Crystal Palace.

I have many more memories to share but want to get this out on Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary. I will add more as I can.

A photo I took of the Cakesle 25 years ago. Everyone hated it but me. I loved the Cakesle!

May 20, 2022

Do you remember when Disney Cast Members were not allowed to have mustaches, beards, piercings other than ears (and only for women, of course). How fingernails used to be limited to just beyond the fingertip and the color had to be “conservative?” Earrings had to be posts in diamonds, silver, or gold… no Mickeys allowed, even.

I was watching a Live Stream at Animal Kingdom and the CMs had so much jewelry. And tattoos! Visible tattoos on a Cast Member? Just wow.

I took this picture of Joe Rohde on Opening Day at Animal Kingdom and he was an anomaly in the Disney Cast Member world wearing so much jewelry and a mustache.

Joe Rohde, Imagineer who created Disney’s Animal Kingdom on Opening Day, April 22, 1998.

Rec.Arts.Disney.Parks: gardenia’s RADP Memories

One of my Cinderella Castle photos.

There was a time, long before Google, long before cell phones, long before Zoom that there was something called Usenet newsgroups and that melded with DejaNews. In 2001, Google bought DejaNews. I’m going to put links for you to check out when you have time.

“Usenet is like a herd of performing elephants with diarrhea – massive, difficult to redirect, awe-inspiring, entertaining, and a source of mind boggling amounts of excrement when you least expect it.”

Gene Spafford, 1992

When Google bought DejaNews, millions and millions of Archives were not published, leaving those of us who were active in Usenet before the buyout, with our posts floating in the ether of the Internet universe. There was never a date Google said they would offer those archives, specifically from 1991-2001, but in October 2020, they came back online. With them came hundreds of thousands of my own words, mostly written in Rec.Arts.Disney.Parks or RADP (Rad-pea), obviously a Disney newsgroup.

gardenia

I was known as “gardenia” (lowercase g) back then (an explanation another day) and we all had taglines that came with our names and one I had shocks me: the beauty of movement is discovered in the momentum! Was I really that introspective back then? I guess the “Navelgazing” had to start somewhere, right? This one I kept for the longest time: TDC gardenia, aka Feral Mermaid, savage siren of the magic waters. The TDC means Trimobius Disney Cabinet (member), a faux “club” that anyone could join.

Posts & Words

I am stunned at how much I wrote on RADP, I searched “gardenia” in the (now) GoogleGroups and found my first post on page 1601.

feral mermaid
Nov 3, 1996, 3:00:00 AM

CS wrote:

I must warn you…beware of the veggie burgers at Cosmic Ray’s…they are most unsavory.

I answer:

As a vegan who has tried a number of veggie burgers, I enjoyed the option of a veggie (vegan) burger at Cosmic Ray’s… and I thought they tasted fine 🙂 Adding all your own goodies to it, too, was nice.

When I asked if they were vegan, the CM taking my order asked someone in the back and they brought out the package so I could see that it was, indeed, vegan. I appreciated that. You can also get veggie food in any restaurant with a chef… they will make you anything you ask for as long as they have the ingredients. I have often had baked potatoes with loads of steamed veggies and many of the breads are vegan as well.
Enjoy!
Barb aka gardenia

Orlando
gard…@magicnet.net

What I found were mostly comments, but often with complete Trip/Jaunt Reports as well. Folks wrote Trip Reports after their visits to The World. They were welcomed with awe and appreciation, helping people relive their own times in Disney World. Because I lived in Orlando for most of the time, I wrote Jaunt Reports.

Who’s Going to Read This?

I am aware that the people who give one whit about this are either those that are/were in Radp or Disneyphiles, but I want to share my writings and here is the best place to do it. So if you want a glimpse of Disney, mostly Disney World, through my writings between 1996 and 2001, I am going to write those posts here. I will always state Radp in the Topic so you can bypass it if you like.

But I want to say, I did some kick-ass writing during that, my most prolific, time. Hope you enjoy them.

Another Cinderella Castle photo I took.

Food Memory: Frozen Orange Daiquiris

When I was 16 years old, I used to wander over to the Contemporary Resort at Disney World to lay out in the sun on their beach, something that isn’t possible anymore because of alligators. But, then, Disney was still young and the gators hadn’t yet infiltrated the lakes.

1980contemp
Back of the 1978 Contemporary Resort. Note the beach on the upper right… this is where I would lay out in the sun.

I was fat, but wore a tube top and a bathing suit bottom that went up to my belly button, keeping my midriff exposed to the sun.

These were the days before we knew about skin cancer and using sunscreen. I had my trusty bottle of baby oil that I slathered on every couple of hours. (Tanning at home, I used Crisco.) Just reading it, I’m checking all my freckles and moles!

No one ever checked to see if I had a room key or asked if I belonged on their beach. That would never happen today. Because no one cared, when I got hot, I’d dive into one of their two pools, swim around (I’m a great swimmer), get cool, then go back to my spot on the beach.

contemporary-cabana-pool

New Friends

One time when I was in the pool, there was a woman sitting on the side hollering, “Barbie! Barbie!” and I answered her, asking, “Yes?” I swam over to her and she was calling one of her twin daughters, also named Barbie… we laughed, then introduced ourselves. It took less than 2 minutes before we were fast friends. After we were done swimming, I took them on a guided tour of the Magic Kingdom (the only park open then) and they took me to dinner. Barbie’s mom and I corresponded for 10 years, talking on the phone a lot, too. They lived in Canada, so never saw them again. I think about the family often wondering whatever happened in their lives.

Frozen Orange Daiquiri

But, what about that Frozen Orange Daiquiri?

While I lay on the beach, servers wandered around asking if people wanted something from the bar (including snacks!). Can you imagine that happening today? No way in the world would they traipse in the sand selling drinks. But then, it was awesome.

The first time I had enough money to buy something to drink, I asked if there was a virgin anything cold and the server said, “We have Frozen Orange Daiquiris,” and I probably said, “Yes!” way too loud, but she toddled off to the bar to get me that drink.

I swear she floated back, my drink balanced on her tray, my mouth watering as she came upon me like an angel of Frozen Orange Daiquiris.

orangedaislice

It was served in a clear plastic cup with an orange slice on the rim.

It was exquisite.

Sipping the thick icy treat, I found using the orange slice as a scoop to be more efficient as well as yum-MEEEE! I asked the server for a few orange slices when I ordered the next drink and she brought me a bowl of them!

orange slices

This became my special treat and even when I didn’t feel like laying out in the sun, I’d go to the Contemporary Resort, sit at the Sand Bar and order one Virgin Frozen Orange Daiquiri after another. With a pile of orange slices to dip, use as a scoop, then peel the orange from the rind with my teeth.

peels

I can taste it even now, feeling the searing sun on my back, slurping the icy drink off the orange slices.

Where Are They Now?

I have not figured out why, but no one seems to make Frozen Orange Daiquiris anymore. They make Peach, Mango, even an Orange-Banana, but where are the unadulterated Orange ones? I’ve ask experienced bartenders to make me one and usually get a look of confusion. I’ve probably only had 5 in the last 40 years. And even those didn’t taste like I remembered.

Yes, I am aware that the atmosphere of the burning sun, the white sandy beach, being on Disney property, the server wending her way through the lawn chairs, the piles of cold orange slices create a memory that can never be recreated, that no matter how many Frozen Orange Daiquiris I have, none would ever taste the same.

I’m salivating remembering the tart sweetness over the decades.

Let’s bring the Frozen Orange Daiquiri back to a drink everyone asks for!

orangedaiq

Reviewing Disney Dining

Back a long time ago….

Food Writing

I’d been writing reviews of meals for a long time, publishing them on Disney websites (for free). I got great feedback, so kept going.

One of the folks that read my writing was Susan Shumaker. She and her partner Than Saffel were working on a book on vegetarian dining at Disney World and surrounding areas. They asked me if I would like to collaborate by eating in a slew of restaurants they couldn’t get to because they didn’t live in Orlando and had to make trips back and forth to taste test for themselves. I jumped at the chance!

veg guide
The end result!

Dining Partners

I was in a poly relationship at the time with a woman and my former transman partner (who had not yet come out). We scheduled 3 weeks to hit all the restaurants on our list, staying in different Disney Luxury Resorts chosen randomly. Even though I was the one reviewing/writing, all three of us were fed for free. And, except for breakfast, also given fine wine, per course, at lunch and dinner.

I was the only one of us three eating vegetarian or vegan; they were meat eaters… and were served meat dishes throughout the tastings.

All of us loved red wine and drank copious amounts. (A separate post in the works.)

Memories! Like the corner of my mind.

Meeting the Chefs

It was a matter of course for the chef to come to the table to ask what my food preferences were. (No green/yellow/orange/purple/jalapeño/etc. peppers. Not terribly spicy. Love mushrooms.) We 3 had eaten (and paid for it) in most of the restaurants, so knew many chefs ahead of time. Sometimes, they’d sit with us and we’d talk about food and wine. Fun!

Sitting here almost 20 years later, I cannot recall even one time I was disappointed by food made by a Disney chef… on either coast. And I’ve eaten in Disney’s Fine Dining easily 200 times.

Restaurants We Visited

We did not just eat in fancy restaurants and I did not eat just at Disney restaurants. We ate at restaurants in different Disney Resorts, from Value Hotels to Moderate ones, and of course in the Deluxe Resorts. When I ate off-property, those places were ghastly! No vegan food at all and Stouffer’s Veggie Lasagna was almost always the meal I was given. I ate at about 8 different locations off-property, but close to Disney World. I got to see some fun shows the tourists flock to, but the food sucked.

Where it did not suck was at Walt Disney World!

Whispering Canyon Cafe, Wilderness Lodge Resort

whispering-canyon
Whispering Canyon, Wilderness Lodge

We had breakfast at Whispering Canyon. Endless family style food. I was a vegetarian, so didn’t want the sausages. It was no problem at all. They asked what each person wanted to eat and if they wanted meat but were sitting with vegetarians, the meat was served on a separate plate. The food at that restaurant was yummy!

Whispering Canyon Breakfast Skillet
Whispering Canyon breakfast, Wilderness Lodge

Flying Fish, Boardwalk Resort

Flying-Fish
Flying Fish, Boardwalk Resort

Besides being a lovely restaurant, food at the Flying Fish was awesome. I wish I had a picture of the foods I’d eaten at each place, but I do not.

heavy sigh

At a separate time, one of my friends having dinner with us was a Supertaster. He sat naming the ingredients in his dish… spices, too! We asked the chef to come over and test him. Amazingly, he was spot on with everything that was in his meal. The chef was impressed. I was stunned.

Artist Point, Wilderness Lodge Resort

appp
Artist Point, Wilderness Lodge Resort

Artist Point was my go-to restaurant, even having my entire family eat there with me several times. The food was fantastic and their wine list was a delight. I remember sitting in Artist Point for hours, slowly eating course after course, then having a dessert made especially for us. One of our favorite desserts was dark chocolate wafers with a dry Cabernet.

Mmmmm!

The chef got to know my poly partners and me and never made the same vegetarian dish twice. Always delicious! When I was eating for the vegetarian book, the chef made especially awesome dishes for us all. (One thing I remember about almost all of my meals was the pine tree-like rosemary sticking up from one mashed food or other.)

I haven’t been to Artist Point in at least 10 years, but know if I sat down there tonight, the meal would be amazing.

Kona Café, Polynesian Resort

Kona-Cafe
Kona Café, Polynesian Resort

Kona Café used to be the best place to get coffee at Disney World. The coffee beans were from Kona, Hawai’i and they really did make the most delicious coffee.

Researching right now, the space is actually a “casual dining” restaurant! With a sushi bar! The coffee is all but a footnote on the menu. I am sure it is still the best coffee in the World.

Cítricos, Grand Floridian Resort

citricos
Cítricos Restaurant, Grand Floridian Resort

I’ve been to Cítricos only a handful of times. They serve seafood and Tuscan Italian food, which isn’t my favorite. It’s a gorgeous restaurant with great service and am sure my veggie dish was good (as I said I can’t think of one meal I didn’t like anywhere on Disney property.) and I don’t remember anyone complaining about their food but me. I do remember having Italian wine and missing the California wines I was used to.

Yachtsman Restaurant, Yacht Club Resort

yachtsman
Yachtsman Steakhouse, Yacht Club Resort

The Yachtsman Steakhouse, obviously, serves steaks. Huge, giant slabs of beef. I cannot remember what I had, but do remember using a menu to hide Zack’s plate that had a pool of blood underneath his steak. Blech. Carnivores love the place and I might even like it now! I do have my steak medium well and eat it with ketchup. (I know… why bother?!? Kind of what I said for a long time as a vegetarian!)

Maya Grill, Coronado Springs Resort

maya gril1l
Maya Grill, Coronado Springs Result

I loved Maya Grill! And had a crush on Beatriz, the chef at the time. Beatriz took me back in the kitchen a couple of times, letting me photograph her hands as she prepped for the dinner crowd. One of the things she made was chimichurri, a dip I slurped up hungrily… until I saw it was made with green peppers. Then I couldn’t eat it anymore. Isn’t that silly? I know! But it just messed with my world view of hating peppers.

Mexican food is easy to make vegetarian and when we were food tasting for the book, my dinner was delicious… and very different from the other restaurants.

California Grill, Contemporary Resort

cg
California Grill, Contemporary Resort

Ahhhh, now the California Grill. I’ve eaten there dozens of times… as a vegetarian, vegan and carnivore. Never ever ever have I had to send something back. As the name suggests, the cuisine is California-oriented, and it is delicious.

If you are lucky enough to eat here, you must ask for Walter. He opened the restaurant and is still there 22 years later. He is worth waiting for, I promise.

Besides the food, the restaurant overlooks the Magic Kingdom. In the picture above, you can see the fireworks over Cinderella Castle and how lovely Space Mountain is covered in lights. While watching fireworks from inside is nice, I prefer the catwalk outside. In the olden days, very few people knew about that 15th floor perch and I took friends out there to impress them. And they were impressed!

Used to be you could just go up for the fireworks, but now you must have reservations to be allowed on the elevator up. So, make reservations! Eat dessert and coffee if your budget is on the small side (you do not have to tell the podium folks what you are going to eat… keep it to yourself!) or dinner if you’re wanting to spend some money on magnificent food and wine. Reservations around firework time are harder to get, so we usually made reservations either far far in advance or about 6pm and just eat several courses slowly. Tip your waiter damn good if you stay at the table for 4 hours!

There was a Dessert Chef we knew up there at one time and we’d sit at the small area overlooking the making of the desserts. Watching them being made is magic! Incredible soufflés, wondrous crème brûlée and then the most creative desserts for kids! From rice cereal sushi to bowls of dark cookie dirt with gummy worms hidden inside.

For the food review, I know we had an amazing time, a window table overlooking the Magic Kingdom and Seven Seas Lagoon, with peeks at the Polynesian. That meal I can remember like it was yesterday. Exquisite.

I last ate at the California Grill with my daughter Meghann her family and my mama. We had a beautiful time! And yes, Walter was our waiter. As he was for Meghann’s honeymoon meal 10 years earlier and the server for many, many of the great meals I had on the 15th floor of the Contemporary Resort.

Serendipity

It was pure luck that I was able to go around the World and eat and drink so well for 3 weeks. We had so much fun! I think everyone should be able to do the same.

It’s your turn!

California-Grill_Full_19457
Vegetarian Dish at California Grill

Kakigōri & Michael Flatley

June 6, 1999

The girls and I headed to Epcot at Walt Disney World, me in an Electric Convenience Vehicle… an ECV… and they walking.

ECV

I always had my camera equipment and we carried our yellow Mickey ponchos for the inevitable afternoon thunderstorms.

poncho

As we wended our way around World Showcase, we went inside The American Adventure to listen to the Voices of Liberty, an amazing a Capella group that sings beautiful songs about America… and a couple of Disney tunes thrown in. (Not quite sure where the other voices are coming from, but they vanish around 2 minutes in.)

America Gardens Theater

When you walk out of the The American Adventure (which we had been in dozens of times so did not go this day), across the way, is the America Gardens Theater. I have to show you several pictures because they will be relevant later in the story.

EC-AGTheater-BE-N
America Gardens Theater, Epcot, Walt Disney World

It’s a wonderful theater with great acoustics.

The day we were there, Michael Flatley Lord of the Dance was performing. I had never seen them before so was really excited.

Because I had the ECV, we were led to the Handicapped Section. It was about 8 rows from the stage and I was on the far left of the benches.

photo 2
This is the handicapped row. I was sitting on the other side by the man walking in the blue shirt. You can see how close we were to the stage.

Kakigōri

It being June in Florida, it was damn hot. I tend to get to places early (movies, shows, parties, etc.) and this was no exception. Waiting, it was suffocatingly hot. While we always carried water, that Kakigōri booth in Japan, which is next to The American Adventure, beckoned. We needed something cold!

Kakigōri, a Japanese treat, is a sort of snow cone, or if you know Hawai’i Shave Ice, it is similar to that as well. Besides the syrups they add (your choices), some people enjoy cream in theirs. (Blech!)

kakigori

Not long after we were sitting in the flippin’ hot sun, the girls were sent on a mission to get the Kakigōri cones. I love cherry, and when they have it, grape. Yum! We three sat eating our snow cones, waiting for the show to start.

It finally did.

Michael Flatley Lord of the Dance

The show began with an amazing display of Irish dancing, men and women, moving in unison, the legs kicking while the tops of their bodies were stock still. It was delightful fun!

Midway through the show, a soloist came out and began singing the most lovely ballad… her soprano voice soaring into the air around us.

ld41

Feedback

Then the feedback started. A blaring eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee that was the strangest thing ever! Disney is meticulous with their sound systems, it was bizarre having feedback.

People were looking around. Why hadn’t the sound people fixed it yet? Crazy!

Then I see a Cast Member wending his way through the crowd… in a hurry… was everything okay? Holy crap, he was heading… towards… me?

“Ma’am, can you get off the ECV’s horn?”

I looked down and my bulging fat belly was leaning on the red horn button, causing the horrid “feedback.”

eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

I leaned back and, miraculously, the feedback stopped.

People everywhere were staring. Right at me. I was filled with embarrassment.

And then I started laughing.

The girls and I got the sillies, thinking about me causing all that ruckus. It took every bit of control to not howl with laughter through the rest of the performance.

We’ve continued laughing for almost 20 years now.

eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

Writing in Jail

When I first went to jail in Orlando, I was freaked out and so very alone. I got to talk to my former partner Zack and my other former partner (we were in a triad at the time), but those calls were limited and I spent the majority of time bawling my head off.

I needed to write about my pain. In the worst way.

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I did not know how to get pencil and paper yet (through the commissary) and when I did, I ordered it right away. Still, it took a couple more days before I laid hands on writing utensils.

In the meantime, I came up with a creative way to “talk” to my friends and lovers.

I typed on the computer to them. Not a real computer, of course, but a keyboard hovering in the air in front of me. And I typed. A lot.

I was put in my own cell for a few days, which was heaven because I could pee and poop in a tad of privacy except for the one wall made of bulletproof glass.

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Once in a cell with other women, the peeing and pooping was entertainment for them and I did everything in my power to wait until they were gone from the room; not always possible. Being extremely fat, it remains one of the most embarrassing experiences in my life, this doing bodily functions in a room with 3 other women.

But, at first, I was still by myself. No one to talk to except the tearfully short conversations to my partners.

So, as I said, I wrote on an invisible computer.

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I poured out my fears, sadness, confusion and concern that I would never leave jail ever ever. (Which was ridiculous, but I could not be convinced I would not die an old woman in there.) I wrote to my Disney newsgroup friends, telling them how, as I tried to go to sleep, I would “ride” It’s a Small World or even the WEDWay PeopleMover, rides I knew by heart. I told them how I could hear the music, the announcers, feel the PeopleMover slowing at the right spots or flew over Captain Hook on the Peter Pan ride.

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I wrote about how I laid on the flat mattress with no sheet or pillow and only a wafer-thin blanket in this freezing place, singing songs from a myriad of Disney movies. Over and over in my head, I would pull Disney memories and walk or rode or sang them to myself. And I told my friends this as I typed the soundless clickity clack of invisible keyboard keys.

I was absorbed in my “discussions” with my friends. Sometimes in non-existent chatrooms, all of us sharing stories of what we were doing that day or where we would go on our next Disney outing.

So when I heard knocking on the window and looked up, I was rather surprised to see 5 faces watching me. I did not stop typing, my fingers mid-air, moving continuously.

“What the fuck is she doing?”

“That bitch is crazy!”

“They better not put her in with me.”

I glanced up again to see a couple rolling their eyes at me as the all turned away to do something else in the Day Room.

And I smiled that they could really have thought I was crazy… and might just leave me alone to my writing.

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Being Scared

This was a 500-Word Snatch.

I hate Halloween.

I Hate Halloween

It’s scary, spooky, blood-tinged and images of death and dying abound. All the reasons others love the holiday, I hate it.

When I was about 14, I saw The Exorcist in the movies (remember when there was no rating system except X?), my friends egging me on that I was a chicken shit and get over it. Even now, at 57, I wake with nightmares of Linda Blair’s head spinning and green vomit gushing out of her mouth.

I read Amityville Horror because everyone was reading it. I had to keep it covered with a dishcloth under the couch before I could go down the lonely hallway to my bed, lying there for an hour, terrified, before I stiffly fell asleep.

terrified

For the same peer pressure reasons, I rode scary rides at amusement parks and fairs. I am a Disneyphile and once had a vow to ride any ride Disney created because, “How bad could it be if Disney made it?” I’d waited eons before considering going on the Tower of Terror, a 13 story ride where the elevator drops, free-fall, over and over again, as people’s screams resonated throughout the park.

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I was part of a worldwide Disney newsgroup and we would regularly meet in the parks. When one faction began taunting me that I would not go on the Tower of Terror, one of the guys said, “What do expect from a Democrat? They are all scaredy-cats.” Well, that was just the challenge I needed to get myself in line, shaking terribly and feeling like I was going to vomit the whole queue to the actual car that flies up and down. Once in and the bar went down, I screamed to get off, but it was already too late; the ride had begun.

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The huge “elevator” car, carrying 22 people, slowly wended its way through the storyline before clicking into place to go up the 13 floors. It seemed to climb forever upward. (I thought about Charlie in the Chocolate Factory flying out the top in the glass elevator.) Then, once at the top, it goes into a complete free-fall, down several stories, stops, climbs again, only to drop a different number of floors. Over and over until eternity passed and I was finally able to escape the Republican friends who congratulated me on my bravery.

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Me, nearly barfing in the front, with all my friends laughing at my misery!

I began to faint and two people led me to a side corridor, still by the ride’s car, and I sat on the floor, head between my knees, shaking so hard my teeth chattered. I could not get up for 30 minutes. I had several visitors while scrunched on the floor including paramedics who wanted me to go to the hospital for a check-up. I declined.

While I sat there, I resolved to never do anything scary again. No ride. No movie. No book. I would never put myself through that stress again. If I go to a movie and it gets scary, I leave right away and go to a rated G film in the movie complex.

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This has extended to finishing books or movies I do not like. It also melded into what I watch on television, mainly the news.  I figured I was old now and deserved to enjoy what I was reading, watching or listening to. So, if I do not like something, I move on to the next option, releasing the intense urge to complete the task, as I was taught to do growing up.

Nope. Not anymore.

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Bipolar Mania: Rollercoaster Crap Now

10/7/17, 3:32pm

The hurricane was a complete bust. Whatever.

I, on the other hand, have been an up-down-up-down-sideways crazy person.

California Screamin Roller Coaster
California Screamin’ – Disney California Adventure (downward spiral)

Elusive Balance

For fuck’s sake already.

I am really trying to be patient waiting for the meds and Manic cycle to even out, but in the meantime, my poor friends. Gads. They are bearing the brunt of my bizarre behavior. Giddy happy (said in a sing-song voice) one minute, then dark and brooding the next ( almost whispered in ominous bass tones). How they cope with my craziness is beyond me, but goddess love them, they are still hanging around. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if they just skittered away, blocking me from their lives forevermore. Yet, they remain.

I have been up and down (har) with sleep. I will be awake for 23 hours, then sleep for 5. I took a 2-hour nap yesterday, without meds, and then was up another 20 hours, taking meds to get myself to sleep at 5am this morning. I was back up at 8am. Probably not enough sleep, but I am completely energized. (Or manic, however you want to say it.)

Hypomanic Tilt

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Mickey’s Fun Wheel, Disney California Adventure – note the swinging gondolas (they sent me and my girls into sheer panic the time we rode them)

I’ve considered writing out a schedule, but now I think I am teetering on that Hypomanic State where it feels “normal”… not psychotic UP and not burying your soul down. I am in that so so good, without nasty hallucinations, pero con bastante energía… place.

I am singing again. (Still badly.)

Right this moment, Disney’s Broadway Lion King Soundtrack.

Singing LOUD.

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Disney’s Broadway Lion King Musical

from “Shadowland

And where the journey may lead you

Let this prayer be your guide

Though it may take you so far away

Always remember your pride

I know some believe (and it is confirmed by Dr. Google) that Hypomania only occurs with Bipolar 2, but I will beg to differ. Over the years, I’ve had several episodes of Hypomania that created reams of articles and posts.

Where I am at the moment is a-WAKE, feeling positive. The hallucinations are on the periphery (not literally)… not terrifying, but not flowery, either. I can pretty much brush anything I see or feel aside… inconsequential gnats.

My written words are flowing easily. I am not spending money I don’t have (an enormous shift from the past 2 months). I have 18 half-finished posts calling my name; I want to do all of them at once.

And then there is talking to clients. I am still too speedy with them, talking over them, a huge no-no in phone sex work. My kids could even hear the difference when they called last night before the hurricane.

Boo Hoo’s

Talking to my kids and former partner Zack, I sobbed through the calls, acting like the hurricane was a freakin’ tornado about to take me from all of them. The tears come and go randomly. Have for 4 days now.

I know the goal is balance and that will probably come with a more regulated schedule.

I am just not ready yet. I don’t want to slow things down. Not yet. I feel too good.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

10/7/16, 5:27pm

Touching Base

This is a bullet point list of my life at the moment.

  • I am distraught over the “Zero Tolerance” bullshit happening. I know those women. I caught those babies when I worked in border towns. I know in a visceral way what those women feel like in my arms and those babies in my hands. Did you know the kids in the “shelters” are not allowed to be held? The siblings are not permitted to hug each other? That “policy” is to keep abuse from happening. But what of the extreme violence of abandonment? I can barely breathe sometimes I am so upset.

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  • I was sick for so long and we finally… FINALLY… figured out it was a Biliary Obstruction in my liver. I should have had my gallbladder out 10 years before it was taken out, so that is where the obstruction began. Taking the gallbladder out did not end the abdominal pain, in fact, it got worse. Then the itching began and I was scratching my back with scissors, deciding to go to the hospital for help when I had blood from my back on my bed sheets. The itching was the most unbelievable in the world. It is easy to see why people kill themselves when their liver is failing and the itching is relentless. My liver labs were not terrible. Until they were. My urine turned to rust color with each itching episode, then when the color lightened, itching would go away. I dashed back to the liver doctor when my Alk Phos was 1085 (39-117 is normal range), my AST was 76 (range 0-40) and my ALT  was 116 (0-32 range) and they did several imagine tests, finding the obstruction in my liver. We began looking at surgery to remove the blockage and then, one day, I went from feeling like shit to feeling normal… for the first time in MANY years. My labs normalized. The imaging showed the blockage had cleared on its own! And I continue pain-free in my gut. Pee is clear. No itching. I thought I was near death and had a DNR. I have rescinded the DNR.
  • Work is going really well. I am getting better and better with guidance from friends there, one of whom is the busiest there. She has taken me under her wing, showing me shortcuts to promo work and how to garner more clients. I am having a wonderful time still, and my love for what I do seems to shine through to the folks that call/cam/email/text and now Second Life.
  • Work has moved into Second Life. How I missed SL for all these years (it is 14 years old) is beyond me. SL is the most fun I have had online in a couple of decades. I am learning as fast as I can, but the learning curve was steep for me because I have never played video games ever in my life. SL is NOT a video game, per se, but a Virtual World. If you are in SL, email me and I will tell you who my non-work Alt is (NavelgazingWriter@Gmail.com).
  • My HgbA1c went from 7.0 to 8.3 in one 3-month period. I was doing my insulin incorrectly (not pushing the insulin in slowly and leaving the needle in for 15 seconds or so afterwards) and since I changed, I have had no BG over 140, even post-prandial! I’ve had several low BGs (the lowest was a scary 40!)

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  • So I lowered the Lantus down 4 points, then 2 more points and my fastings are always under 100 and my pre-eating checks are equally as low. I am giddy excited to see my next HgbA1c.
  • I am really fat. As fat as I was before the gastric bypass in 2001. I am just resigned to being fat.
  • My teeth are falling out of my head and I look like a hillbilly, so do not want to go anywhere I don’t have to lest I have to talk.
  • One of the most beautiful experiences in my entire life occurred when Meghann brought the grandbabies to Orlando to visit hillbilly grandma. Gabriella read to me.

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GABRIELLA READ TO ME!

  • Meghann took me to Epcot (during Flower & Garden Festival!) and I went even looking like a hillbilly. I had a flippin’ BLAST with my baby and grandbabies.

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  • My blog life is in limbo at the moment. I am moving some of this blog to another host, but think I am going to just move the Food Stuff over and give it a new name. I miss writing my thoughts here. I wrote an amazing piece on that stupid giuliani person when he talked about Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels) and had to put it in my work blog because I didn’t have another place to put it. It should be seen by more people!

Well, that is it in a few bullet points. I miss y’all lots and thanks for those that have contacted me asking if I am still here and alright. Thank you for that. It is for you that I want to write more.