Posted in Nerdy and Nifty, Non-Mighty Projects, Out and About in Orlando

Hello Moto. Inside #ConnectOrlando

This past Thursday was the first time I was ever able to attend a real social media event.

They rolled out the red carpet for RJ and me.

#ConnectOrlando is an event sponsored by Verizon Wireless, showcasing some of their newest phones, like the Moto Z2 Play and the Moto G4 Plus, in addition to their new Unlimited plan that now covers Mexico and Canada. So many reasons to celebrate, and a lot more reasons to socialize.

A picture is worth a thousand words as me and RJ pose with a giant gold frame.

The event was held at Snap Space, a local art gallery in the Mills 50 district of downtown Orlando. Food and access to an open bar were included for free, with a DJ and a few spots for photo ops, given the event’s main focus on Instagram influencers.

Rolex the Llama poses in front of a Hello Moto backdrop

Which means Rolex got to party like the big kids.

Rolex made friends with Captain Morgan at the open bar.
Rolex enjoys some spring rolls and fruit
Moto-Rolex…Rolex poses in front of a Motorola sign

All in all, the event was a great way to connect with local bloggers and influencers in a nice relaxing manner while taking in the local art and photography showcased in the gallery.

Me, Rolex, and RJ pose with a golden picture frame, American Gothic style…only drunker.

At the end of the night, each guest was gifted a Mophie wireless charging dock, something that has been on my to buy list for awhile now. Despite the package focusing more on iPhones, my Galaxy S8 handles it like a pro, even with my Otter case in the way.

Verizon Swag Bags on display
Morphie wireless charging dock, the gift found in the swag bag.

A special thank you to the Central Florida Bloggers Facebook group for spreading the word on this amazing event. Looking forward to many more in the future.

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Posted in Albinism, Blindness, and Me, Overcoming Adversity

Llama Gate, When The Ableists Meet Rolex

The last two months has been a nightmare financially for me and RJ, well, mostly me anyway. With Social Security issues, me randomly becoming sick and being forced to take a few weeks off to recover from the flu, and hours at work being a tad wonky, today was the day all of that would get better. All those issues are a thing of the past. We finally broke even from a setback, and we did it together.

We finally were able to do a proper food shop that wasn’t all ramen and explored the new Five Below that just opened next door from the food shop. Five Below is a chain of stores from the Philadelphia area that sell trendy goods for $5 or less, mostly toys, shirts, household goods and decor. I went in the store looking for flip flops and came out with one extra thing.

A llama that freakishly looks like my cat.

Llama Doppelganger meets kitty

Doing what any pet owner and avid shopper would do, I posted about my fun find, the first time in months I did something silly beyond picking up my Horror themed coffee at the convention at volunteer at. I figured I would get a few laughs and hearts, until it became an attack on me spending money on something dumb and being financially responsible. Keep in mind, I haven’t posted anything positive in forever and this little post was what I thought would of been a fun one.

Only it didn’t turn out that way.

The vibe I got in the comments was unbelievable. You would think I took out 6 credit cards, went to Zale’s, and grabbed a Rolex. Or met my bookie on the street for a fresh round of fentanyl laced bullcrap. Or maybe even robbed your grandma.

But no, this is a $5 llama we are talking about here.

A fucking llama!

Look, I get it. I have rode the struggle bus most of the winter season but have managed to keep myself afloat with a little hard work, sacrifice, and teamwork via RJ. We have purged our collections and sold stuff online to make a couple extra bucks, we learned to master our budgets a little more, and gave up many opportunities for growth and socializing because we simply can’t afford it.

Don’t you think we deserve a little treat for making it this far?

Like I mentioned before in several posts, we all have our vices. Whether it be cigarettes, a trip to the spa, or a cup of Starbucks before work each day. Mine just so happens to be toys and kitschy stuff, although I have been slowing down on my spending like any good person would do.

After reading these posts several times, this kind of reaction has become the norm. Even going into the park I work at for free brings negative feedback, hence I gave up what I love to put a strong front so nobody can question my doings.

Which brings me to a point.

Ableist mindsets are alive and well. People still assume a disabled life needs to be a shut in life. A disabled person should be stripped of ever having fun or spending a little pocket change on something silly. The attitude we get over something small is as if we committed a crime, even when the money spent is our own from a job. I have seen it with Bill and his staff, and I see the same in me, but the sad part is these people have no say in my finances.

After the events that have now playfully become Llama Gate, a creative idea has set in to help me get that kick in the ass I need to keep going on my blog.

Meet Rolex the Drama Llama. He will now be a vital part in bringing my once dead Instagram to life. His adventures will be meant to bring positivity as well as kill the misconception that the disabled can live a fun life within their means and without.

And to all his haters, may I suggest eating a bag of chocolate phallic cookies, which surprisingly are pretty damn good.

Rolex the Llama eating a bag of questionable and NSFW shaped sweets

Follow me and Rolex on Instagram as we shake up the world together, while unknowingly pissing off people in the process, at LegallyBlindBagged.

Posted in Uncategorized

Welcome to the Land of the Under Insured

Being sick sucks.

The last three weeks have sent me into walking dead mode, foggy brain with a dab of phlegmy rabies drooling. Typically for me, this is a sign of that dreaded bronchitis. A simple visit to the emergency room or doctor would do the job and I will be back to normal in no time.

Except this time around, I have no insurance.

For the first time in my life, with the exception of Medicare Part A (bare minimum hospital insurance) I have landed into the world of the uninsured…or the under insured of you want to be technical.

It all started in November when I got a letter saying Medicaid (Sunshine Health) would no longer cover me because of Florida’s budget cuts. So I went to the “Obamacare” marketplace to see what I can find. I found a decent plan, with a low deductible and vision plan to boot for less than the price of a latte at Starbucks. Fair enough, right?

A month later, I got letters asking me for a million pieces of documentation from Social Security since I’m on SSDI. As big of a pain in the ass that was, I learned that I apparently have Medicare and had it for the last 2 years. Surprise to me.

Another month goes by and they wanted more documentation from me that was basically hinting that all I needed was my Medicare, so I was forced to cancel the plan or be prepared to pay $300 out of pocket to keep this awesome plan I found. The ladies on the phone from both the new insurance company and the marketplace were very kind and prompt. I thought my dilemma was over, aside from hunting down a place that accepts this part B nonsense (spoiler alert, not many.)

A month goes by and a lovely letter from Social Security lands in my mailbox, informing me that half my check would now be used for Medicare premiums, leaving me without a way to pay my bills (since at the time, I wasn’t getting hours at my water park gig.)

After 4 hours camped out at Social Security with the bestie and a lecture from the Social Security lady on how canceling my health insurance was bad, I managed to fix everything so I can afford to live independently with what little I have. Only downside was no access to medical help unless I am on my death bed, basically.

Sure enough another month goes by and I get sick.

My luck.

Luckily for me, I was blessed with a tax return that not only got me into the minute clinic at my local CVS and meds, but a new pair of glasses, much needed.

The sad thing is that a tax return is supposed to be play money, something I was going to use to go home to PA for a few days. But I guess it’s back to trying to save money without a crisis happening. And knowing me, crisis is my middle name. (And to think y’all thought it was Marie.)

I return to work tomorrow after two weeks of mostly bed rest, but sad to say I am not 100% yet. I take my last Amoxicillin in the morning, and then I don’t know what. I have tons of over the counter meds stocked up just in case, but even that might not be enough to knock it out.

Honestly, it sucks being in the grey area of the insured, where you don’t work enough hours for company insurance, your assistance is cut off by the state, and paying for it out of Social Security risks you being homeless and broke. It’s even more annoying that because of your age, you don’t qualify for the Silver Care Plan or AARP for at least another 28 years, leaving you to fend for yourself, hoping you make it before something kills you.

I’m thankful for the health I have, even though it is far from perfect. But it is a shame in this country that health is a luxury. There are third world countries out there with socialized medicine and cheaper healthcare. And yet we as a developed nation can’t even get it right.

As I drop another NyQuil and sip some OJ, I pray the next few days brings healing and that I don’t regress. My body and my wallet can’t afford to be sick again.

Well, here goes nothing.

Posted in Albinism, Blindness, and Me, Overcoming Adversity, The Billy Blogs

Develop-mentality

When one thinks about the term “developmentally disabled” one thinks of the most common conditions and stigmas surrounding the term. Often, it’s associated with conditions like Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, not to mention archaic terms like mental retardation among other things. In this day and age, developmentally disabled lies in the umbrella of cognitive and intellectual disabilities. None of which up until this point I ever associated with beyond being an advocate, teaching assistant, and at one point, my then boyfriend’s caregiver.

But in reality, it turns out I have been living a lie.

Upon discussing my current project of getting a self advocacy group going here in the metro Orlando area with Bill (who has experience in running his own group in my college days,) it came up in discussion that although I want to be an advocate, I don’t self identify as a person with a developmental disability.

“But Mandy, think about it. You were born with a disability, right? And you have trouble doing some things on your own, right? Then you’re developmentally disabled.”

After doing some digging around and conversing with my fellow advocate buddies, he isn’t too far off.

According to the American Association of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Developmental Disabilities” is an umbrella term that includes intellectual disability but also includes other disabilities that are apparent during childhood.

Developmental disabilities are severe chronic disabilities that can be cognitive or physical or both. The disabilities appear before the age of 22 and are likely to be lifelong

Since my disability classifies as a genetic condition that I was born with, and given it limits me in some aspects of life, I apparently fall under the term of developmentally disabled.

But do I really count myself as such?

All my life, the term was synonymous with short buses, segregated classes, and special sporting events where everyone gets a medal or ribbon of some kind. The stigma surrounding the term is damaging to ones like me who never thought it could apply to my own self identity. Which is a shame since society’s ableist views often fogged my own, trying so hard to fit with the status quo in order to make it in the world without that kind of bias surrounding me.

But yet in a way, it makes me wish I saw myself as being developmentally disabled much sooner. There are many opportunities for support and services to those with developmental disabilities, more so than those who classify as legally blind, like I have always been labeled as. Many blind groups and services cater to those who acquire blindness, not so much for those who were born with it.

But it makes me wonder if my own self identity should be something I need to reconsider for my own personal gain. Or is it something I need to leave alone since there are those more deserving of the label society likes to toss around?

Maybe not so much.

In a way, I feel more connected with my fellow advocates with various identities, which makes me feel a sense of community I haven’t really felt before. This gives me the confidence I need to get my advocacy group off of paper and into the real world.

But yet, you can’t fully change 30 years of being called what you’ve always been. Maybe that change will come in time.

Besides Developmentally Disabled Bagged doesn’t sound like a catchy name for a blog anyway.

Whatever you want to call me, at least I know I am not alone.

Posted in Nerdy and Nifty, Out and About in Orlando

An Event Worth Dying For

Have you ever wanted to be a zombie for a day and live out your Walking Dead desires? Surprisingly, Orlando has quite a few opportunities to do so throughout the year, from organized flash mobs, horror events like Spooky Empire, and even a Zombie 5K, a simple dig around Facebook will help you unleash your inner undead.

One such group that organizes such events is ZoCorps, which hosts a yearly Zombie Walk, as well as the upcoming Zombie 5K still in the works. These Zombie Walks have taken over many spots in Downtown Orlando and Winter Park, wandering amongst the living, eventually ending at a local spot for noms that don’t involve brains.

This year’s walk has hosted on International Drive, a popular tourist hub full of fun and tacky attractions, needless to say the perfect place to raise a little mayhem.

For $15, each participant was made over by local make up artists, many are the artists behind the monsters of Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando. From airbrushing to minor prosthetics, you got the VIP treatment that was of high quality.

Our Make Up station was housed in the Orlando Crossings Atrium, home of the epic comic and collectible shop Gods and Monsters and their almost monthly Nightnare at Camp Blood event, which showcases local artists, cosplayers, and vendors who specialize in horror themed goods. Not to mention cupcakes, because Zombies Love Cupcakes. This tasty treats come from Ria’s Smashcakes.

Although we were asked to show up early around noon, our step off didn’t happen until 5pm, which required a lot of waiting. But there was plenty of shopping to do at Gods and Monsters, which not only houses comics and collectibles to purchase and feast eyes upon, but also various arcade games to pump quarters in and board games to borrow, as well as The Vault, a speakeasy style bar hidden in the back of the store, which is the ultimate nerd den.

Sadly, the Vault didn’t open until four, but a sober zombie is a happy zombie, right? Maybe?

At 5pm, we were carpooled over to the Orlando Eye area, where we were given the route and the rules, no chasing the locals beyond three steps, no destroying property, and to retreat out of character if things get nasty. Our scenic tour took us around several businesses in the I-Drive 360 plaza, as well as the parking garage, which gave a great place to acoustically get your groans on.

Our final destination was The Sugar Factory, which agreed to house our undead horde, but the Orlando Eye security didn’t appreciate our little group of ghouls and we were asked to leave. But not before the manager at the Sugar Factory turned on Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” as we made our deadly departure to a wildly excited crowd of diners.

As we were leaving, we stopped by King’s Entertainment to use the restroom. That’s where Orlando Police met up with us to get the scoop as to what happened. With a laugh and a few compliments on our make up, the cops let us go, and with management approval, we took the party to King’s instead.

All in all, the event was remarkable, even though we were ousted from our dining ressies at Sugar Factory. In the end, it was totally worth it. I can’t wait to see what the team at ZoCorps comes up with next.

Special thanks to RJ for purchasing my ticket and making this an epic date night I won’t ever forget.

PRO-TIP Be sure to purchase your cleaning supplies in advance. Some of the make up used doesn’t come off too easily without the aide of make up wipes, baby wipes, and rubbing alcohol. These are must needs for after, otherwise, you’ll have a hard time catching an Uber, as we watched one cancel on us right in front of our undead eyes. Thank you Guiscard for the ride home and an epic sense of humor.

Posted in Mandy Eats, Out and About in Orlando

Mandy Eats- Let’s Call It Bella Notte

Side by side with your loved one
You’ll find enchantment here
The night will weave its magic spell
When the one you love is near

Disney’s Magic Kingdom park is a mecca of dining opportunities, often overshadowed by the gems many camp out in front of their computer or My Disney Experience account up to six months in advance to get, like Be Our Guest or Cinderella’s Royal Table.

Little do they know that somewhere special is right in front of their nose the whole time.

May I present to you Tony’s Town Square Resteraunt. Located right next door to the Town Square Theater Meet and Greet on Main Street USA.

Tony’s is a gem all of it’s own, what it lacks in character dining flare, it makes up for in its theming. Based off the 1955 Disney animated film Lady and the Tramp, Tony’s takes you to that beautiful night, that Bella Notte, when the dynamic doggo duo fell in love. Artwork and atmosphere take you to that place where love began, from beautiful artwork and Italian style kitchen props gracing the walls to the cutest little fountain I have ever seen, it’s all a feast for the eyes as much as it is for the food itself.

I mean, come on, even the restrooms have cute theming as well. (This honestly gave me a good chuckle.)

But what about the food?

Tony’s is an Italian restaurant serving up classic Italian dishes, from classics like pizza and chicken parmigiana to the infamous first date spaghetti dinner of Lady and Tramp, complete with giant meatballs. Needless to say, I hope you packed your appetite, as the portion sizes are actually up there with the prices. You get what you paid for, so much so many people around us shared their meals “Family Style” despite being sold as individual plates.

Although there are options for antipasti or appetizers, there really wasn’t a need for it, considering the table gets offered a nice plate of breadsticks with a garlic and olvie oil dipping sauce. Great way to start a truly authentic meal.

I had the Chicken Parmigiana, a lightly breaded chicken breast topped with mozzarella cheese and Tony’s marinara sauce, served over a plate of spaghetti. A simple dish sure packs a lot of flavor, the sauce flavorful and hearty, the cheese super creamy, and the chicken nice and tender. For a girl who grew up in a half Italian family, this dish gave me a taste of home.

My bestie Amanda ordered Shrimp Fettuccine Alfredo, which is also offered in chicken form as well. This delectable portion of shrimp is served on a bed of fettuccine with a nice creamy Alfredo sauce drizzled on. It wasn’t too much and it wasn’t too little, but somehow rationed into the perfect dish that any Alfredo fan would enjoy.

Although stuffed full of Italian goodness, we decided to treat ourselves to dessert. Despite being small in comparison to other dessert menus on property I have seen, the choices offered at Tony’s pack in the sweetness and variety that anyone with a sweet tooth would love. From Gelato or Cannolis, a simple chocolate cake or cheesecake, each item looked and sounded so amazing, it was hard to pick just one.

In the end, I went with the Tarimisu,Kahlúa Espresso-soaked Lady Fingers and Whipped Mascarpone topped with Mocha Cream. I have had plenty of Tarimisu in my lifetime, but never of this size. Holy Hannah, this piece was huge. I almost didn’t finish the whole thing. The Kahlúa was strong with this one, and in a good way. The lady fingers soft and dainty (like anything called lady should be.) And the strawberry a nice touch to an already note worthy dessert.

Amanda, being the typical New Yorker she is, decided to go for the cheesecake. Although small in comparison to the Tarimisu, the cheesecake was super rich, much like the famous cheesecakes served up in the Big Apple itself. A small side of strawberries complete the course, which vary by season according to the menu.

Tony’s is a great little getaway from the hustle and bustle of Main Street and the ultimate date night or bestie lunch. It might not have the Belles and whistles (see what I did there?) of other popular eateries nearby, but one stop into this quant bistro will easily make you fall in love.

It’s a Bella Notte anytime of day. Bone appetit!

Shout out to Amanda for treating me to this best kept secret hidden in the Magic Kingdom so I can share it with you all.

Ready to dig in and share some spaghetti and more with the people you love? You can book a reservation at Tony’s Town Square by calling Disney Dining at (407) 939-1947 or by downloading the My Disney Experience App on IPhone and Google Play.

Posted in News and Opinions, Overcoming Adversity

Dear Florida Government,

To whom it may concern,

Im pretty certain you might pass over this letter like you do to many of your non-lobbying constituents, but I figured if I have a voice, I might as well use it.

I’m a thirty something year old woman who was dealt with a bad hand at life by being born legally blind. As a result, I’m only able to work part time despite wanting so much to be a so called contributing citizen that your Republican party wants me to be. Working full time is a dream of mine that I’m willing to chase, but in order to do so, I need access to migraine reducing medication that will slow my Nystagmus down and help prevent eye strain, much needed when my line of work requires both being outdoors and on a computer system.

Since I moved to Florida five years ago, I was able to get on SSDI after being on SSI much of my adult life after working enough credits to do so. SSDI helps pay my rent and my bills, especially when my weather dependent work at a water park reaches slow season. It is a godsend that is much needed.

However, Medicare was given to me with no prior knowledge back in 2015. Apparently somewhere along the line, my Medicare card got lost in the mail, and it wasn’t until recently while trying to pick up a Marketplace Plan after you decided to pull my Medicaid from my SSI days that I found out this Medicare exists. Because of this plan existing, I had to pull out of Marketplace because I apparently don’t need it.

Today I get a letter from Social Security that marks you as the culprit for no longer paying my premiums, resulting in a mad dash to figure out how to pay my rent next month when my hours at my part time job are for the time being non existent.

Keep in mind, with the exception of a stretch of 6 months working full time at Disney up until I eventually was forced to resign due to my physical and mental health, I never got the chance to see a doctor, nor have I ever had to check into a hospital. Medicaid was useless to me since no doctors were accessible to me, and Medicare is essentially just as bad, If not worse. My disabilities prevent me from driving, and since my disability isn’t considered developmental or intellectual, I can’t get the help to navigate a healthcare system that developed shortly after my 26th birthday, when I was dropped off my parents plan.

Looking at the four hundred something dollars I need to pay up for a service I never used, for a service that no doctor within an easy one bus route or a cheap Uber ride accepts is like Prince John robbing the blind villager in Robin Hood. And sadly, I’m that villager.

My day tomorrow will be spent camping out on hold for hours on end with social security hoping to God that they allow me to cancel all of this so I don’t have to worry about being kicked out of my home, along with hundreds of other Americans being dealt with this harsh blow right now.

I would have to say I am fortunate enough to be able to squeeze by without a lot of specialty visits, considering my disabilities aren’t life threatening as of yet. But then again how will I know if the broken health care system won’t even take a glance at me without being armed with a Blue Sheild?

But I look at others who have more prominent disabilities than mine who can’t even get out of bed without help from a waiver program, many who don’t have the opportunities like me to work at least a few hours a week to have some food money come Friday morning. It makes me wonder if you are doing this to them as well. How many people’s lives will be in jeopardy because of this? How many deaths and misdiagnosisis will be made from people like me ignoring my needs because a roof over my head is more important than medication?

I ask this of you, the men and women who sworn on a bible no less to protect us Americans and put our best interest in mind. How is taking more money from the already fixed incomed going to help them? We already know it’s helping you in your lavish vacations and fancy dining sets.

I urge you as leaders of this great state and country to take a step back and help your fellow men and women who just want to have the same opportunities and access to healthcare as everyone else. Access to a doctor shouldn’t be a luxury, it should be a necessity like our armed forces and infrastructure.

Isn’t it about time those who through no fault of their own have been dealt with disability and poverty get the help they need so they can function in a society that should be open to them? Isn’t it about time you stop for once and reach out to those in need beyond a cheesey campaign ad photo op and do the right thing? I’m sorry it’s taking money out of your raises, but I’m sure the God you believe in so much to the point of plastering his name on school buildings will Fast Pass your way into heaven for taking the time to help those in need.

Help us with a hand up in healthcare, and please show us compassion. Everyone needs equal access to healthcare, no matter the wallet size.

Now if you excuse me, I got some phone calls to make.

Warm regards,

A Taxpayer

A SSDI Recepient

A Registered Voter

And more specifically

AN AMERICAN CITIZEN CHASING THE AMERICAN DREAM.