Monday, September 18, 2017

The Real MVPs

I just wanna say something about a group of people who don't get enough recognition and really really deserve it.

Sanitation workers.

This morning I was crossing the parking lot and the man driving the garbage truck came through and waved at me. I was thinking about how driving a garbage truck is very rarely a coveted position and people who do it probably sort of fell into it when they found that it pays better than some other jobs they can get. They spend their work day hot, stinky, and dirty, and they come home smelling like garbage. Their work is rarely respected, and sometimes it's even used as a joke (like kids teasing each other that they're going to grow up to be a garbage man).

There are many other jobs in sanitation besides driving a garbage truck that are low glamour, high importance. Some work with utilities, or repair drains and gutters, or provide pest control, or do disaster recovery, or clean buildings in a janitorial sense, or work in positions associated with landfill or recycling or sewage treatment. Some deliver equipment that will be used in these industries. Some get hired to repair and clean machinery that is necessary for our lives to continue the way we're used to.

There is so much need and not much recognition. Most of them probably don't want "recognition" any more than the next person wants to be hailed as important and necessary in their job outside their actual work space, but I think a lot of what these sanitation folks do is invisible to most of us. 

I wanna say thank you to the Real MVPs our sanitation workers, especially with regard to how overworked they must have been in my city picking up yard waste and dealing with unusual schedules and weird trash. I'm really glad we have these services and that people are able to provide them. I hope they are rewarded with good pay. They deserve it.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Personal Digest Saturday: September 9 – September 15

Life news this week: 
  • Saturday was, like, freakout day. The hurricane was coming and it was looking more and more like it was going to be a strong hit right on my hometown. Jeaux and I followed through with plans to go to my new house to meet the cable guy (installing Internet!) and cooking a meal there, but we were pretty distracted and considered skipping town while it was still possible. Eventually we got talked down and decided to spend the hurricane at my mom's. After the cable was installed and food was eaten, we went to our respective homes to pack up and protect our dwellings, and then we dropped Jeaux's car at my new house's garage and had my mom pick us up to go to her house. We slept there.
  • Sunday Hurricane Irma hit us. Right around the time it started pouring, we were about to have breakfast (my mom made eggs!) but then Mommy fell down in the kitchen and was unresponsive, so we called an ambulance. They took Mom to the hospital, where she was found to have a broken nose. (We don't know why she fell.) She called me later and told me she didn't remember anything about the fall. Jeaux was intensely great supporting me and letting me cry on him. I spent the day updating my friends and family on the situations, tracking the hurricane, and drawing digital art (so at least I got something done!). We didn't lose power at the house but stayed up all night until the hurricane had finished its worst.
  • Monday was off work because we were in the storm, but it wasn't too bad and we were able to get a paid ride over to my new house to pick up Jeaux's car. My new house had power but neither of our apartments did. After some errands, we went back to Mom's to spend the night and watched American Ninja Warrior. I did a little drawing.
  • Tuesday we elected not to go to work because things were still so messed up. Jeaux had power in the morning but I did not. We showered at his house and went out to breakfast, then picked up Mom from the hospital, yay! She was okay but kinda shaky. I lost her paperwork somehow so I had a nice freakout about that. We went to my new house because the air conditioning repair guy was there, and I cleaned a bathtub. Then back to Mom's where I gave her a birthday present because it was her birthday. After that I went home and had power, so I showered again and tried to eat some vegan macaroni and cheese but it wasn't very good so I went to bed.
  • Wednesday I went back to work. My boss wasn't there and there wasn't much going on, but I got some productive time in. Then I went on a couple errands after work (got some food to replace what I had to toss after not having power!), and met Jeaux. We ate at Zaxby's, went to my mom's briefly to help her with something, and went back to my place to watch People of Earth. I was too tired to do anything after that so I slept.
  • Thursday I went back to work and was busy all day. And I bought some rugs for my new place! But I still need a bunch of stuff and I probably need to cool it because I can't afford it right now. (I need a kitchen table, a couple chairs for the living room, and some bookshelves, plus a mattress--Mom's giving me a queen bed frame and box spring, but doesn't have a mattress.) After work I went to the new house because the owners wanted me to check for hurricane damage. While I was there I measured a bunch of stuff and cooked a meal. When I got back I was tired but I talked to Victor on the phone and drew comics.
  • Friday the office was busy again. I did a bunch of work, came home, and posted my comic. I had thoughts about getting a bunch more stuff done but to be honest I was just completely out of energy and fell asleep very early.

Reading progress:
  • Finished this week: Sorry, was too busy hiding from the hurricane to read.
  • Currently reading: Stormy Weather by Carl Hiaasen.
    New singing performances:

    Was too busy hiding from the hurricane to sing.

    New drawings: 
    "Cover" image of "Work on the Love," a digital comic I did
    about Steven and Amethyst's Smoky Quartz feels. It doesn't
    make sense if you don't watch the show, but click through to read it if you want.

    A doodle of younger Garnet and Amethyst.

    Webcomic Negative One Issue 0644: "Pretty Different."

    New videos:

    None. Didn't even get around to playing ukulele.

    New photos:

    The sky being a troll looking nice even though it was about to be a mess.
    Sky looks a little more appropriately stormy.
    Back at work after the ordeal.
    First cooking alone in my new place.
    First eating alone in my  new place.

    Social Media Counts:

    YouTube subscribers: 5,287 for swankivy (1 new), 644 for JulieSondra (no change). Twitter followers: 878 for swankivy (no change), 1,338 for JulieSondra (lost 2). Facebook: 294 friends (no change) and 203 followers (lost 1) for swankivy, 654 likes for JulieSondra (lost 3), 55 likes for Negative One (no change), 126 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,503 (lost 1). Instagram followers: 122 (no change).

    Thursday, September 14, 2017

    The Breaking Point

    Some of you might want to know how my hurricane journey went.

    Not so good. 

    So here's how things have been since I last posted my Saturday update.

    On Saturday I went over to my new house where I'll be moving at the end of the month because my cable person was showing up to install my Internet service. The original intention was for my friend Jeaux to drive me there, help me clean and measure some rooms, and we'd test the appliances by cooking a meal, and park his car in my garage so it would be protected from the coming storm. I mean, it's a brand new cute car and probably should be protected from the weather if possible. So we were gonna do that but when I got up it was starting to become scary--the news kept saying it was more and more certain that Tampa was getting a DIRECT HIT from this hurricane, and we were scared.

    Jeaux and I went to the new house anyway but didn't get much done. We were really distracted trying to make a plan and were considering actually running from the storm because it was sounding so dang scary. My new house, my old apartment, Jeaux's apartment, and my mom's house were NOT in a mandatory evacuation zone or flood zone, but we were thinking crap, maybe get some gas (if we can!) and get the heck out of here and take our people with us. 

    As we waited for the cable guy and sort of cleaned some things, we investigated options and didn't really find anything good. Highways were jammed up with fleeing Bay residents and gas was scarce. We didn't have anywhere to go lined up. And there was a possibility wherever we'd run to would be worse than where we were because the storm was bigger than the state. So what do you do?

    We decided the best thing to do would be to hole up at my mom's house. She has a relatively sturdy structure and had bought aluminum window coverings that her lovely roommate David had put up for her (man, that guy was really good during the storm!). I had initially planned to weather the storm by myself but I was getting really panicked and wanted to stay with others. So we arranged to do that, and I invited my friend Victor but he didn't want to leave his house because he was afraid of his stuff getting soggy if he didn't personally keep the water at bay, so he didn't accept our invitation. At my new house, we waited for the cable guy to complete the installation, made some rice on the stove (hey, at least we know that works!), and drove Jeaux's car back to our side of town to get ready.

    I packed up my stuff and put some other important stuff in places where they'd be less likely to get wet or damaged if there was damage to my apartment (especially windows). And then I packed some nonperishable food and a flashlight and some candles and battery backups for the eventuality that we would lose power. That night we went over to my new house again to park Jeaux's car, and my mom picked us up and took us to her house, where we burrowed in for the night.

    In the morning we were ready for a hurricane to hit us, though it wasn't supposed to get really bad until the night. There was a curfew coming and up until then you could still go outside but it wasn't smart to do so. In the morning it started pouring on and off and there were some weird winds. My mom cooked us breakfast so we could have a hot meal while we still could, since we were still expecting we would lose electricity pretty soon. We had some eggs and toast and I had coffee. Just before Mom was about to eat some of the breakfast she'd made, we heard a loud noise in the kitchen and called to see if she was okay, and she didn't answer.

    So Jeaux, her roommate David, and I all kinda converged on the kitchen at the same time and Mom was lying on the floor. We could see some blood and she was unresponsive. I called 911 immediately and asked my friend and her roommate to check if she was breathing. They said it was hard to tell but it seemed like she was not. While I was on the phone she had a weird seizure--she stiffened up and jerked around a little, but then relaxed and coughed and started clearly breathing again. They tried to get a towel under her head but since the 911 people told me not to move her it was hard to do effectively.

    I kept it together pretty well during the emergency--listened to the 911 instructions, made sure she was still breathing, got her medicines and personal things together in her purse, and waited. The EMTs got to her house in the pouring rain and came inside, and started asking her questions to see if she'd reply. She did start replying, sort of--was able to answer her name and where she was, but couldn't seem to get out an answer to what year it is or how old she was. It was pretty scary and there was some blood on her face but it seemed like it wasn't actually flowing from anywhere--just a bloody nose, I guess. There was already a knot at the top of her nose where some swelling was happening--looked like she must have bonked her face on the way down.

    The EMTs took her and told me there was not really a reason for me to come in the ambulance because there was nothing I could do and I was going to get stuck at the hospital if I came. I elected to stay with my friend and Mom's roommate, but felt like shit because I knew when she woke up she would be scared without me. After they took her and took my information for disclosure, I was like okay, now I can freak out, and Jeaux let me cry on him for a bit. Then we ate our breakfast. David cleaned up the blood.

    I was so grateful that this happened early enough that the EMTs would still get to us and that we were here for when it happened because I don't know if the bang was loud enough that David would have heard it had she been home without us. Also am very grateful for having Jeaux with me to hold me together. I wouldn't say I don't cry easily--I cry over emotional stuff all the time!--but I don't freak out easily. The stress of the storm and my mom getting hurt was a LOT to deal with and I couldn't weather it without some tears.

    For the rest of the day we mostly just maintained the status quo, monitored the storm every time there was an update, got stuff ready as the hurricane came closer (moving into an interior room, blowing up the air bed for Jeaux, informing other people who wanted to know if we were okay what was going on). I also texted my sisters and asked them to call me so I could tell them what happened to Mom. Both of them were really awesome about it, and sister P took the task of calling around to find out where Mom was (because if they told me where they were taking her, I didn't remember!) and giving me updates on what was going on, while sister L decided to come see us after the storm. Mommy called me from the hospital later (I had remembered to include her phone and charger!), and she asked me "How are you, honey?" Man. How am I? How are YOU? She said she didn't remember anything--didn't remember falling or the aftermath or even the ambulance ride. Just woke up in the hospital. It must've been so scary.

    They don't know why she fell. She was wearing non-slip socks so it's doubtful she slipped. She may have just had a weird drop in blood pressure and fainted. It happens, I guess, but they couldn't find anything wrong with her that we didn't already know--she didn't have a stroke or anything. 

    So Mom spent the hurricane in the hospital. Jeaux and I stayed up through the night waiting for it to hit us. We monitored the progress and I did some digital art like a dork. I actually finished an entire Steven Universe fan comic. 

    A frame from the comic

    We didn't lose power! Jeaux ate some of my mom's chicken nuggets because we still thought it was going to go out when the worst of the storm hit, but it didn't. The wind made some super scary noises and the rain was, you know, sideways and thick, but to be honest I felt like I'd been through thunderstorms that were worse, and there was no thunder, no lightning. Jeaux understood the updates better than I did and he thinks the storm was a Category 2 when it hit us. But we didn't even get what we were expecting because the way the storm turned was a little different and we were not directly hit.

    Victor was okay--he did have some water splatter in but he just kept changing the towels at the door. My mom's house was pretty okay--nothing too significant got damaged, but a fence came down.

    My new house had electric power, but had some minor damage too.  Mostly it was just small branches and crap lying around and strewn on roofs:

    But!! When I got there a door was standing open on the side of my garage. The door was busted--the bottom of it is damaged and it doesn't want to open or shut properly.

    So the new house was not in terrible shape, but it probably had the most damage of any place I'm associated with. My apartment turned out to be okay, but the power was out there. And the power was out at Jeaux's house too. Jeaux set up his cable because he can monitor whether it's online and control what it records with an app, so if it came online he'd know he had power at his house without being there. We went back to my house to clean out the fridge and freezer--we didn't know how long the power had been out, but I didn't want all the popsicles in my freezer to drip everywhere and anything in there to start stinking. It kinda smelled like warm soy in my freezer. Haha.

    So we went back to my mom's and spent the night there again because she had power and the all-important air conditioning. Jeaux and I watched one of his favorite shows, American Ninja Warrior, and I was super tired so I fell asleep kinda early. It was weird being there without my mom.

    In the morning we went to our places again because Jeaux's cable came on indicating he had power! And he did, but I didn't! So we took showers, got some stuff, went out to breakfast, and eventually went to pick up my mom from the hospital. She got released with some instructions that I somehow freaking lost. We wanted to drop off her prescription but I couldn't because I lost the damn instructions. I had another crying fit about that and tried to get the hospital people to help but they refused because of codes that protect patient information--they were saying we'd have to drive back to the hospital and it was almost half an hour away and I didn't know what to do. Eventually when I called them back they said they'd mail the packet for us to have and call in my mom's prescriptions. Whew. Jeaux was nice enough to let me cry on him again about all of that.

    So! My air conditioning at the new house isn't working very well and so they had set up a repair person to help us, and we had to go meet them there, so we did. I cleaned a bathroom while the A/C guy messed with the air, and I guess it's working. And we found out my power was on so I went home after going back to my mom's and giving her her birthday present. (The day she got out of the hospital was her dang birthday.) I had gotten her a cute shirt. ;)

    I took a shower and did a load of laundry because my stuff smelled like smoke due to staying with my mom in a smoking home, but that was no big deal. I was so exhausted that I just cooked some food and ate it and went to sleep. And I did manage to go to work the next day, even though the buses were on a limited schedule.

    We got through the crisis with just a broken fence, a broken door, and a broken nose.

    Could have been a lot worse. And was, for some people. 

    Please donate and help if you can. I'm too tired and frazzled to tell you where, but please do your part if you are in a position to do so. 

    Now with that interruption past, I'm diving aggressively into preparation for moving. Moving is honestly the second most stressful thing that happens in my life, outranked only by the times my mom has been sick. To have both of those things at the same time on top of an uncontrollable, unpredictable MAJOR STORM EVENT that had people I hadn't talked to in years e-mailing me to see if I was alive . . . that was it, that was my breaking point. I'm usually really good at taking everything in stride, handling it, coping. 

    This time, I couldn't.

    No one would blame me or think I'm weak for that, but I learned what combination has to happen before I Can't Do It Anymore.

    This was it.

    Wednesday, September 13, 2017

    Wednesday Factoid: Embarrassed

    Today's Wednesday Factoid is: What's something you used to be embarrassed about and can laugh about now?

    This is hard. Because to be honest, just about everything that was embarrassing when I was a kid was not petty or small to me then, so it's not petty or small to me now. I am the person I am because I grew from that little girl. So her embarrassments are not things I laugh at. It kinda feels like a betrayal to say "lol I was so embarrassed but now I laugh."

    That may be partly because I wasn't embarrassed by typical things, or so movies would tell you. Apparently I was supposed to be super embarrassed by my parents, especially if they did "embarrassing" things in public, but I always thought the things my parents did were reflections on them, not on me. I didn't believe anyone was judging me for things they did. That was especially applicable because my mom would sometimes intentionally "embarrass" me by doing "embarrassing" things in public and I just didn't really care. That was her way of having fun. Though when she tells it to others she probably believes she succeeded in embarrassing me. Maybe it was a little embarrassing sometimes to be associated with someone who is going out of their way to do something deliberately ridiculous (like the time my mom came to my bookstore where I worked wearing a propeller hat and sat in the middle of the aisle and threw books everywhere pretending to be a child), but overall I generally felt like other people couldn't "embarrass" me with their own behavior.

    There was an embarrassing incident from middle school once: I went to the bathroom and came back with toilet paper hanging out of my pants and didn't notice until the class laughed at me for having a "tail." My teacher comforted me afterwards but later actually made fun of me to my face saying she almost submitted that as "most embarrassing moment" in a year-end roundup, but decided against it. What. That is not something I laugh about now.

    Speaking of year-end roundups, in my college chorus class one time they gave out really mean gag awards. They gave one to me that suggested I was never paying attention to what was going on in class. Not funny. (They also gave one to a girl in the class that suggested no one knew her name or who she was unless you point out that she's the girl with the big boobs. Not funny. What is the point of these things? They don't make people feel good and the people victimized aren't consenting, the way they might in a roast.)

    I guess the closest I can think of to an incident I was embarrassed of then but can laugh at now is when I was so young I wasn't in school yet, I was waiting for the ice cream man and when the mail truck arrived I thought he was the ice cream man. Without prompt I ran up to him and requested a push-up pop, and he had to explain he wasn't the ice cream man. My mom thought it was funny and so did he, but I was super embarrassed for not knowing the difference between the trucks and got really bratty about demanding that even if he wasn't the ice cream man he should have my push-up. That's kind of cute. But I just remember being ashamed that I had missed the cues of it being the wrong truck and not having the ice cream music, and I didn't think it was particularly nice for anyone to giggle at my expense. Obviously it's not one of those searing traumatic moments or anything, but I guess that's the closest I come to having an embarrassing moment that I can laugh about now.


    Saturday, September 9, 2017

    Personal Digest Saturday: September 2 – September 8

    Life news this week: 
    • Saturday was day 3 of a five-day weekend! I did more packing, plus my blogging, and even made pumpkin bread! YUM! I made the pumpkin bread in the shape of a pumpkin because I saw it on a cartoon. Later Jeaux took me to Five Below where I found some magnets I didn't already own and wanted, and he got to try my pumpkin bread. :)
    • Sunday I did more packing in between playing ukulele and singing. I drew a cool cartoon picture and shopped for furniture and rugs but couldn't find any. Boo! My mom came by and dropped off more boxes for me, and then she went to the hospital again but didn't want me to go with her.
    • Monday I had the day off for Labor Day. Mom didn't get admitted at the hospital so that was a relief, and then she came over and helped me shop for furniture but we didn't find anything. We visited Pier 1, Haverty's, and Home Depot, and also hit the grocery store. I got a little tiny bit more packing done.
    • Tuesday I went back to work and churned through three important documents--a tech proposal and two letters of response. We turned them all in well before they were due (go us!), and then when I went home my friend Eric brought me boxes from his shop and took me out to dinner. (Well, technically I took him out to dinner, to thank him.) His friend Suzie was there too and it was cool to meet her. After I got home I was too tired to do anything productive. Also unfortunately became familiar with the prospect of getting smacked in the face by Hurricane Irma and well, stayed in denial for a while.
    • Wednesday I did some homework at the office and worried about the hurricane a lot. I also drew a page full of dancing Garnets because I'm weird. She's really cute though, I can't help it. Both of my shoes broke: one broke in the morning and the other broke on the way home. How do both shoes break on the same day? I've had them since like 2007 and they both choose the same day to break?? Anyway, I went to meet Jeaux and we ate at Ledo's Pizza, where neither of us had pizza. I was SO TIRED and kept feeling like I needed a nap. We listened to Night Vale and watched People of Earth and the last few episodes of The Tick. I got some drawing done after that somehow.
    • Thursday I worked on wandering through another easy proposal and looking for more to apply to but not finding any. And of course watched the hurricane a lot. The closer it gets the worse it looks for me. I chatted with my mom about doing some stuff at my new house on Saturday while waiting for the cable guy. This is before the hurricane is supposed to hit the next day. Yikes. After work I talked to Victor on the phone and got my drawings done. I posted my webcomic after the clock officially changed over to Friday.
    • Friday I went to work even though a lot of people were not going in. The buses were on a reduced schedule because the storm is coming. I worked a half day, wrapping up some stuff on the proposal we'll be sending in to Charlotte County, and then I decided to try to beat some thunderstorms home. (It worked.) I did some hurricane preparation for in case I might need to evacuate, got some stuff ready for the Saturday cleaning I'm going to give my new house, and did some more packing and some laundry. And I talked to Jessie on the phone and we shared news both inspiring and scary.
    Interviews, Articles, Mentions:
    • Not much going on but Tumblr blogger caughtdead apparently saw me out shopping and blogged about it and the thing tagged me but I didn't see it until like 6 days later.

    Reading progress:
    • Finished this week: No books, but finished reading a comic. Steven Universe 2017 ongoing #7: Five-star review.
    • Currently reading: Stormy Weather by Carl Hiaasen.
      New singing performances:

      This week I performed "Hey Jupiter" by Tori Amos.


      New drawings: 

      Garnet can hold you together if you can't hold yourself, Pearl. ;)
      This was drawn on paper and colored digitally.
      A bunch of dancing pencil Garnets. :)

      Webcomic Negative One Issue 0643: "By Myself."

      New videos:

      My latest unlisted ukulele video is "Destiny," which is a very short song from Steven Universe that I nevertheless had to learn new chords for.

      New photos:

      I made pumpkin-shaped pumpkin bread!
      The cream cheese frosting was yummy.
      Cozy with my Steven Universe plushies
      Reading a book I swear I didn't think would be so relevant to my life

      Social Media Counts:

      YouTube subscribers: 5,286 for swankivy (lost 2), 644 for JulieSondra (lost 1). Twitter followers: 878 for swankivy (1 new), 1,340 for JulieSondra (1 new). Facebook: 294 friends (friended Suzie) and 204 followers (no change) for swankivy, 657 likes for JulieSondra (no change), 55 likes for Negative One (1 new), 126 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,504 (1 new). Instagram followers: 122 (no change).

      Wednesday, September 6, 2017

      Wednesday Factoid: Habits

      Today's Wednesday Factoid is: Do you have any habits you're currently trying to drop? Have you ever successfully dropped a habit?

      Right now, no--I'm not actively trying to stop anything I'm currently doing. I vaguely acknowledge that I'd like to lose a little weight because I am having trouble fitting into my clothes and it's a diet or a new wardrobe, but I haven't actively committed to any lifestyle change and I don't really consider eating a "habit." I just do a little too much of it these days for reasons other than being hungry.

      So yeah, I'm not trying to stop doing anything. I do have some habits others probably think I should drop--I drink a lot of caffeine, I bite my nails, I use my phone a lot, I really like salt. But I don't have a reason to stop ingesting caffeine or salt--neither seems to be hurting me--and I don't have any vested interest in using my phone less or growing my nails out. I actually did stop biting my nails for a long time once and didn't actually like having nails, though I did kinda enjoy painting them. They just get in the way too much while playing instruments and typing. So I might as well eat them.

      When I was a kid I sucked my thumb until I was something like 7? There was a lot of concern about this and how to get me to stop. It was a little helpful when my mom put a band-aid on my thumb so I'd be reminded not to stick it in my mouth. But mostly it was just good old will power. I wanted to be rewarded with a party when I stopped and I think my mom sort of agreed to throw me a party if I'd stop, but I never got a party. Maybe because it was unclear whether I'd actually fully stopped for a while and when you could tell officially that I'd dropped the habit, and then also there was the awkwardness of what are you supposed to do to have a thumb-sucking-cessation party and invite your seven-year-old's friends without it being kind of embarrassing. The whole point was that I was way too old to be sucking my thumb, so drawing attention to it seemed like a bad idea.

      I just wanted a cake, probably.

      I'd like some cake now, in fact.

      Not going to be very helpful with the diet.

      Tuesday, September 5, 2017


      There's a monster hurricane that's probably about to smack the hell out of my state.

      Currently, it looks very much like I'm just really close to the danger zone, not in it. There are a lot of projections that say Tampa Bay should be prepared to weather something pretty awful but we're not being named as being in specific catastrophic danger. You know, like Miami and the Keys and Puerto Rico basically are.

      I'm not in southern Florida and that's looking to get hit the hardest in the state by latest projections. But that's super scary, and the state is officially under a declaration of emergency.

      Why am I talking about this?

      I generally don't prepare much for hurricanes.

      I've never run out and bought batteries and bottled water. Though I guess if I were to lose power and face all this nastiness, I'd be not too far up the creek. I don't need special care or medications. I don't eat much and a lot of what I would need to eat is shelf stable. I've got water and other liquid. 

      And if it looks like it's coming to hit us, I know damn well the best thing to do is evacuate.

      You do NOT screw around with a Category FIVE hurricane.

      Living in Florida, I've lived through a few. Category 1 is just really wet. In Florida we're so used to those that we often don't even do anything. I had to go to school during a Category 1 once. I BIKED through one and took a final exam in college. 

      At Category 2 they really aren't worth ignoring, though. And of course, on up. I went into hiding in a friend's dorm which doubled as a hurricane shelter when I was in college one time. It was a Category 5. 

      It was one of the scarier times of my life. 

      There's nothing you can really do about this stuff except get out of its way and hope you have something to come home to.

      My current method of dealing with it is primarily denial. Maybe it'll die in the ocean and not really hurt anyone, and maybe it won't last long on land. I don't have time for this right now. I'm packing to move to my new house. I'm, like, busy.

      I know that hurricanes don't care.

      There is no convenient time for a hurricane to hit. 

      Once, a hurricane came to my city and knocked out the power for about a day. I was grumpy about not being able to finish what I was cooking, and I ended up stuck in my apartment with my ex-boyfriend, who was being a total tool most of the time (surprise). I got power back pretty quickly, but some people nearby had no power for at least a week and kept coming to my bookstore where I worked to be in the air conditioning for a while.

      These things are scary.

      I hope I don't have to evacuate and I hope I just get to go on with my already-pretty-stressful-right-now life. I have control over a lot of the aspects of that stressful life. Part of the reason I can handle it is that I am proactive about dealing with it.

      I'm not really like that with hurricanes. I just hope.

      Just hoping all I get is soggy. And hoping where it does hit, it will be merciful.

      Saturday, September 2, 2017

      Personal Digest Saturday: August 26 – September 1

      Life news this week: 
      • Saturday I had to work all day. I was doing some proposal stuff and spent about eleven hours working from home, with a break to go car shopping with Jeaux. He decided on a car but there was a small seatbelt-related recall item that needed to be replaced so we did some preparation and planned to get it later in the week.
      • Sunday I did some transcript work for my boss and did a bunch of packing. It's coming along, but not fast enough. I still did some music performances and ate a whole bunch of rice. I also made a video for my writing channel and drew some Steven Universe comics.
      • Monday was a little rough--we had to do most of the proposal at the office and I had to stay late to get it done. I went home before it was done because the last part to do was all in my boss's hands. My co-worker gave me a ride home which was nice 'cause it was raining. I drew a few pictures and fell asleep early.
      • Tuesday was very early work for me--I came in and organized the production and submission of our proposal, and we had it taken to Casselberry by a courier. Then I met up with Jeaux after work and we got his car! I cosigned the loan. He took me out to eat and we watched the new live-action The Tick series. I wanted to watch it with him because we met partially because we both liked The Tick!
      • Wednesday I rushed through composing a transcript for my boss and then did some proofreading. Then I took the bus home and Jeaux picked me up in his new car to eat at Beef O'Brady's and we also did grocery shopping and watched People of Earth and more of The Tick. It was going to be his last day of work, too! Before starting his new job! After he left I did more packing.
      • Thursday I had a day off because I worked all weekend. I spent it packing and getting the cashier's check ready for my new house. I also did a cool joint post finally with the person I collaborated with on Amino. (I did the art and they did the writing.) We didn't get picked for the front page but it was still fun! I also filed a report against the guy who ripped me off on eBay (by not sending my item and then dragging his feet over refunding my money). Guess they'll handle it.
      • Friday I had another scheduled day off because of all the extra time I put in on the proposals earlier in the week. I went to my new house with my mom and signed the paperwork and gave them the deposit. We hung out at the house for several hours talking about how to use the space and doing the initial walk-through to document what's wrong with it. My mom helped me get some boxes for packing and then we ate at Olive Garden and she took me home. I rushed through drawing my webcomic so I could post in time!
      New reviews of my book:

      Reading progress:
      • Finished this week: Nothing, I've been pretty busy and not using my bus time for reading as much as I should.
      • Currently reading: Stormy Weather by Carl Hiaasen.
        New singing performances:

        This week I performed "Want You Gone" from Portal.


        New drawings: 

        Webcomic So You Write Issue 75: "Copyright."

        Webcomic Negative One Issue 0642: "Snow Angels."

        New videos:

        My latest writing video is called "Flipping the Script." It's about how it's probably a bad idea to take a marginalized experience and "flip" it so the oppression is happening to a majority population.

        My latest unlisted ukulele video is "The Christians and the Pagans" by Dar Williams. I got this recording on my first try of the song for some reason! Guess it's just really easy.

        New photos:

        Jeaux with his new car, Funsize.

        Social Media Counts:

        YouTube subscribers: 5,288 for swankivy (no change), 645 for JulieSondra (lost 5). Twitter followers: 877 for swankivy (no change), 1,339 for JulieSondra (1 new). Facebook: 293 friends (no change) and 204 followers (1 new) for swankivy, 657 likes for JulieSondra (no change), 54 likes for Negative One (no change), 126 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,503 (lost 2). Instagram followers: 122 (1 new).

        Wednesday, August 30, 2017

        Wednesday Factoid: Time Management

        Today's Wednesday Factoid is: How good are you at time management?

        I'd say pretty good! Better than most people, I guess. I'm relatively good at figuring out how long something will take and giving myself a generous amount of time to complete it, and I also tend to be the type of person who does NOT procrastinate; if I know I have to do something, I feel better if I do it ASAP and not have to worry about whether it's done. I was always that kid doing homework on the way home on the bus, wanting to get it finished so I could rest easily and breathe.

        I tend to have a pretty good amount of motivation, too, and to be honest I wouldn't have thought it was unusual if people didn't comment on it all the time. Because I have SO many things I want to do and I almost always feel like I'm falling short, even though other people keep telling me I get a lot done. Objectively, I can see that I do a ton of stuff and that most people don't do what I do. But since I am only accomplishing a fraction of what I wish I were, I don't feel like I'm doing anything out of the ordinary. And it's kind of a motivation killer if you keep comparing yourself to other people, so maybe that's why I tend not to look and end up with an unrealistic assessment of how much I SHOULD be able to do.

        Lately I have fallen short of many things I want to do, most notably writing new fiction, and secondarily keeping up with communication online and maintaining/updating some of my websites, but I've gotten MORE done in areas like teaching myself a new instrument, drawing a lot, and getting more reading done. It seems like I'm always unhappy with some aspect of my productivity, and trying to do it all just makes me exhausted, so I guess this is how it's going to be.

        But all things considered, if there is something I MUST do, I tend to have it very well planned out and executed in plenty of time. The times I end up leaving stuff until the last minute almost always shakes out to my having had to depend on someone else to do their part. I try not to be a jerk about it because I've come to realize almost everyone procrastinates as a way of life, and I don't want to be That Jerk, but yeah, sometimes it irks me if I'm in a situation where I have to wait for someone to do their thing before I can do my thing and there's nothing I can do about it.

        Tuesday, August 29, 2017

        He's more than just a troll

        Here's a thing I find frustrating.

        "Just ignore him! He's trolling."


        "They're trolls, just trying to get a rise out of you. It's just an annoying hobby. They wouldn't behave like that in real life." 

        Real life.

        So there's this tendency to suggest things that happen on the Internet aren't "real" things, and that therefore crime, harassment, deliberate lying, and invasion of privacy cannot possibly have any real-life consequences. Oh, and also, that if they do have real-life consequences, it's because the victims "let them." 

        First of all, "it's because you let them get to you" is only remotely true in the cases where the harassment or other horrible behaviors are happening entirely online. If the only harassment someone is getting are gross Twitter messages and they delete their Twitter account, in a way I guess that's problem solved. People keep saying these eleven-year-olds who are experiencing online bullying should just have their parents take their phones away and then maybe they won't be suicidal. But considering online harassment is rarely contained entirely online, that doesn't help much (especially since if you're being bullied and you stop responding, people out to hurt you often look for other ways to hurt you). And beyond that, writing lies or starting smear campaigns or inciting harassment online can still cause direct consequences even if you don't know about it--it can be attached to your name or online handle and used against you, sometimes to result in sustained harassment campaigns from people associated with whoever initially targeted you.

        On top of that, "it's because you let them get to you" is a victim-blaming perspective. Victims of bullying and harassment do not "let" someone have an effect on them. Certainly there are available coping strategies and some people are more resilient than others, but that doesn't mean we should focus on the people being targeted and send them the message that they are responsible for "handling" their harassment a particular way instead of holding the harassers responsible. 

        And finally . . . 

        Stop absolving "trolls" of responsibility because they think it's fun to harass people without risking their personal embarrassment or bodily harm.

        When you're a jerk in person you may find that people avoid you or want to hurt you. There is nothing less serious or less harmful about causing harm to others from a place where they can't connect your behavior to you. It isn't less of a jerky thing to do if you single someone out online and target them with hate for some "crime" (like being awkward on a video, or singing poorly, or being a social minority or part of a marginalized population, or having a different opinion from you about a video game). 

        He's just a troll, though!

        What's a troll, in the opinion of these people? Is it different because supposedly the troll doesn't actually espouse the beliefs they're spouting? (And that's arguable, too, because many, many, MANY people who pretend to be "devil's advocates" are saying what they actually believe under cover of a thought experiment because they want to test the waters or not be connected to their actual opinion if it turns out to be unpopular.) And even if the person is saying something because they know it's controversial or designed specifically to upset someone/push their buttons . . . how is that less of an assholish thing to do just because the person doing it might not actually believe it? Isn't it potentially worse to do something just because you want to hurt someone, not because you're legitimately arguing your side?

        Trolls are not lesser jerks because they're "just trolling."

        They are hiding behind online anonymity and they are deliberately hurting, sometimes terrorizing people.

        And let's not ignore that the victims of such hate campaigns are usually vulnerable people. People from marginalized groups who are already bullied and less accepted in society, who have had to go against the grain to a sometimes great extent to even live their lives in truth, and then they're put in the crosshairs and held under a microscope, harassed for whatever the main "complaint" is as well as having whatever other public behavior they've recorded put on blast by trolls.

        Trolls are honestly pretty poorly understood, and the effect they have on people they hurt is so, so minimized. It shouldn't be socially acceptable to be a troll or defend one. And yet time after time after time I hear people doing it, again blaming the recipients of their hatred for reacting to it incorrectly. 

        And if you've heard they "go away" if you ignore them, you are wrong.

        Yes, it is true that they're encouraged when they succeed in causing or contributing to a messy public breakdown. But that isn't the only thing that keeps trolls going. You can block comments, limit your online engagement, refuse to engage anytime someone is out to target you. But not only does that make said trolls step up their game because they perceive that you're not open to criticism or feedback--it also leads to them finding other ways to harass you in person (if they're determined) and going after anyone who supports you. For minor incidents, it usually doesn't go this far, true. But if you're talking about trolling that is a consistent problem, even one or two determined trolls can take their toll, and when it's bigger than one or two, it takes far more than a toll. It can limit your opportunities, scare you and your family, lead to problems with productivity because of having to restrict how and whether you release online content or allow feedback, and increase stress and anxiety. (All this is assuming the trolls are not violent, which has also happened.)

        I once had a so-called troll try to attach my legal name to accusations of pedophilia, because he figured someone who was asexual was actually probably just a sexual deviant and needed to be shamed for it. I mean, either that or he did it for the lulz. Calculate, if you desire, the difference my troll's intention makes in what happens to me if someone believes the accusations and finds them while googling my name for a job interview. 

        I am very sick of the idea that a troll's "real" personality is not reflected in what they choose to do with their time. It makes zero difference to me if they're doing it because they hate what I stand for or because they think my suffering might be amusing. Someone who takes pleasure in hurting others is not a good person, nor are they just engaging in a harmless hobby. They are intentionally seeking to harm. The whole POINT is to harm. They're not doing it to joke around with someone who's in on the joke or ribbing them back. They're not teaching their victims a lesson. They're not sending a message or convincing a person to change their message. They're creating a violent, antagonistic environment where people who create content are expected to endure dedicated personal harassment as a natural consequence of creating that content.

        Being harassed isn't a "natural" consequence of being a content creator. Stop saying haters gonna hate as if that excuses what trolls are choosing to do. They're not weather or disease or earthquakes that "happen." They are individuals, deciding to make life worse for someone else, and if it happens in "real life" we tend to avoid those people. Though of course some types of bullies succeed in offline life too. We need to stop enabling them through excuses--especially since it sends the message to victims that it is their responsibility to react properly (or to stop being so bullyable). I'm sick of being told that standing up for my causes comes paired with inevitable trolls who should not be blamed for THEIR behavior. Stop supporting the message that being an online harasser is something fun that everyone's done once in a while. (And I'd also appreciate it if you'd stop pretending it only becomes serious when and if a kid commits suicide over it, at which point some people still say the real problem was that their parents didn't teach them not to take online life so seriously.)

        He's a troll, but he's not just a troll. He's also a bully, a harasser, a nasty person, and possibly a criminal. Doing it online, facelessly, or in the name of squeezing some suffering out of a victim for his own amusement does not make his actions less awful. And if you're a good person yourself who would not engage in this crappy behavior, please stop protecting people like him under the excuse of free speech or the minimization of their victims' suffering.

        Sunday, August 27, 2017

        Personal Digest Saturday: August 19 – August 25

        Life news this week: 
        • Saturday morning my mom texted and said she decided she should go to the hospital, so I went with her and stayed with her in the emergency room until she got admitted, and then I stayed with her the whole day pretty much. I brought some stuff to do but didn't do any of it. It seemed like she was in good hands though and I went home to do some blog stuff and get some rest.
        • Sunday I found out my mom was doing pretty well but she would still have to stay in the hospital so I went to her house for her and got some of the stuff she wanted, and then went to the hospital again and spent the day there with her. I got some digital drawing done and had lots of good chats with her. I was mostly just happy to see her eat stuff. Besides that, I just did a few music things and tuckered out. The duet I recorded got another feature on the front page of that site I like.
        • Monday I had to go to work but my mom got released from the hospital and was well enough to drive herself home. I missed the bus because I was tired but it all worked out. The eclipse was mostly uneventful for where I was, but we tried to look at it. I did a transcript at the office and dealt with some stuff regarding a new employee. Jeaux invited me out for Moe's food so we got together and then I went home and did some drawing.
        • Tuesday it was more transcripts for me. I went home after work, talked to my dad on the phone, did some planning for upcoming comics, and played with some new toys: Steven Universe building sets from McFarlane. I built 4 out of the 6 sets I got.
        • Wednesday I hired movers and did some housekeeping. I met up with Jeaux after work and we ate at Vallarta's, listened to Night Vale, watched People of Earth and Wrecked, and played with my toys. I stayed up all night building the remaining two sets! It was fun.
        • Thursday I worked on a proposal all day at work, took a nap after work, and talked to Victor while drawing my comic.
        • Friday was eventful! I had to work and stayed late working on a proposal, and then my friend Eric picked me up and we went to Drink and Draw straight from the office. I drew a comic and some fanart, hung out with my friends, and ate the vegetarian sandwich I love so much. :)
        Reading progress:
          New singing performances:

          This week I performed "Nothing Compares 2 U" by Sinéad O'Connor.


          New drawings: 

          First: a series of three drawings I did for a collaboration I'm doing with a writer on Amino. (I'm illustrating the story.) These are all hand-drawn and hand-inked, then digitally colored. It's a weird combination.

          And here's a digital doodle I did of a very early version of Garnet that people tend to call "Cotton Candy Garnet" for obvious reasons. (I doodled this while I was hanging out in the hospital.) This is entirely digital--there were no physical drawings for this one.

          And then there was a very silly thingie I did where I drew Garnet marrying herself. And her family is so proud.

          Webcomic Negative One Issue 0641: "Fast Song."

          New videos:

          My latest unlisted ukulele video is a duet from Steven Universe: "What Can I Do (For You)," which is sung by Rose Quartz and Greg Universe--Steven's parents. The Greg part is supposed to have a rockin' guitar solo at the end while Rose goes off to dance with someone else, which is why I go "bye" at the end.

          It got featured on the front page of Steven Universe Amino! (And if you want to see how the original sounds, here is a good link to "What Can I Do (For You)" from the show.)

          New photos:

          Let's just say my photos of the eclipse were not great.
          My completed McFarlane Toy sets.
          Joy drew Ducky at Drink and Draw.
          My sleepy squint at Drink and Draw.

          Social Media Counts:

          YouTube subscribers: 5,288 for swankivy (lost 2), 650 for JulieSondra (1 new). Twitter followers: 877 for swankivy (3 new), 1,338 for JulieSondra (no change). Facebook: 293 friends (lost 1--I unfriended someone) and 203 followers (no change) for swankivy, 657 likes for JulieSondra (no change), 54 likes for Negative One (lost 1), 126 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,505 (3 new). Instagram followers: 121 (no change).