Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wednesday Factoid: City, Suburb, Country?

Today's Wednesday Factoid is: Would you most like to live in a city, a suburb, or the country?

Honestly I feel like the city is the best fit for me. It sounds a little weird because I do like nature and I do appreciate solitude, and actually I think some time out in an isolated cabin sounds pretty nice, but I like being in an urban center. I like being in one of the cities touring bands and acts come to. I like having a lot of choices when it comes to entertainment or shopping opportunities, and I like that I can get to most areas of my city on the bus. I like that I'm not far away from lifesaving care if something awful were to happen, and I like the mood of cities and the flavor of quirkiness they inspire. 


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

17 years

Whoa, how did that happen!

In a couple of days Jeaux and I are "celebrating" 17 years as friends.

It's not a nice round milestone or anything. And we don't really do anything special on our anniversaries, though sometimes we call it our 'versary and go to a slightly nicer restaurant or something. (This week we'll be shopping for comics. But we always do that.)

But it's pretty neat to think about. This person has been in my life for 17 years. We've had a predictable schedule of meeting about once a week and doing fantastic friend things together. We can help each other out in times of need. We can text each other frustrations and cartoon theories. We can have someone to go to things with if we want a someone.

I have a lot of friends who don't really have longtime friends. And they find it AMAZING that I have some friendships that are over twenty years old. My friends Meghan and Victor have been in my life even longer than Jeaux--for Meg we met in 1993, and for Victor we met in 1996. I have friendships that are more than two decades old.

I've said this before and it's probably starting to get tiresome now, but I'll say it again as Jeauxversary approaches: I find it obnoxious that people assume those who don't have a romantic partner do not have meaningful partnerships at all.

My connections with these other people are not romantic, and they are not committed with any ceremony, and they are not what you'd call "partnered" relationships, but they are worth celebrating on anniversaries and worth celebrating daily. We have such a weird fixation in our society on relationship permanence only working in one particular way, even though everybody knows tons of divorced people. And if you asked people, of course they wouldn't say friendships can't/don't last or that lifelong friends don't exist. So, if marriage is not a guarantee of permanence and there are other types of relationships that are known to last a lifetime, why is it that when I say I'm single and/or not married, people immediately respond with pity and thoughts of "oh wow, she's alone/lonely"?

Jeaux and my other couple of lifelong friends make certain I'm not lonely if I don't want to be alone, but furthermore, they understand my boundaries well enough to know when they're needed/wanted. Jeaux has been known to say it's nice to have a friendship where the other person isn't needy and clingy but is reliable and available, and with whom outings and visits are predictable. We both value being able to know what to expect, and so we fit very well together.

Hooray for Jeaux. :) 

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Personal Digest Saturday: March 11 – March 17

Life news this week: 
  • Saturday was a nice break from a hectic week. Woke up at 10 AM which now feels late to me, and that's hilarious. I made some important phone calls and got nowhere, and did some Internet stuff. Made an asexuality video and did some fan art.
  • Sunday we had Daylight Savings. Blah. I processed Saturday's video, made my karaoke and ukulele videos, and cleaned up my house a little. And I organized my new markers and administered some refills on my Copics that needed them, which took like an hour.
  • Monday it was back to work. My computer had been worked on over the weekend but was still unusable for me, and the computer guy acted confused as to how that could be but it had no programs or anything on it. So I had to work on someone else's most of the day while he fixed that. I was asked to become a notary for work so I took the education and did the application. Neat. Did some edits on marketing letters, then went home and didn't really get stuck in the rain that had been annoying all day. I just kinda chilled for the evening, though I also made a silly asexuality/aromanticism-related comic and posted it on Tumblr.
  • Tuesday I finally made some successful phone calls and did a bunch of design work at work. Went home on the bus and had Mommy over. I made some really gross soup that was basically inedible so I made us sunflower seed butter sandwiches instead and Mom actually ate a little bit. And I played my ukulele a little.
  • Wednesday I had a weird day of very small things going wrong all day. I got up early and biked to the bus stop so I could leave my bike there for picking up at Jeaux Day, but I had trouble getting it locked up to the fence. :P And it was really cold all day. I also accidentally left my keys in the bathroom and had to borrow my boss's keys to get them back. :P I met up with Jeaux after work and we ate at Applebee's and also did some errands at the AT&T store, Staples, and Target. We listened to Night Vale at my house and hung out.
  • Thursday I wimped out and took a paid ride to work because it was too cold. I spent like two hours at the office by myself and kinda failed at updating some memos for my boss because I just don't have enough information. I worked on design stuff the rest of the day. I had a really nice day for some reason though. One of my art posts on Tumblr (the Opal comic I made a few weeks ago) started getting really nice positive attention and people were privately messaging me to tell me how good it was. I cried on the bus because of that, haha. I'm weird. Victor called me but we didn't talk for long because I was sleepy.
  • Friday it was cold but I managed to tough it out and went to work. It was kind of a slow day and I did a bunch of design stuff. Did some drawing during lunch and continued to get really nice comments on the Opal comic. I was really lazy and almost didn't get my webcomic up in time, but I managed. Then went to sleep.
    Articles, Interviews, Mentions:
    • The Buzz Barr quoted my book and discussed asexuality and demisexuality in the context of a person the author knew in high school.
    Reading progress:
      New singing performances:

      This week's performance was "Winter" by Tori Amos.

      New drawings: 

      Fan art of Pearl and Garnet's dance from episode 63:
      Drawn for my cartoon blog hitting 400 followers.

      Webcomic Negative One Issue 0618: "About to Burst."

      New videos:

      My latest asexuality video is Letters to an Asexual #44, which is about someone stressing that we should pursue a cure, and that conceptualizing asexuality as a disease is based on an understanding of healthy biology, not bigotry.

      My latest unlisted ukulele video is "Try" by Nelly Furtado. (This is really sloppy, sorry.)

      New photos:

      It's a mystery who my favorite character is.
      I may have gotten a little enthusiastic with buying Copics.
      First of three coffee selfies this week.
      Mom wanted to borrow this DVD so I was showing her I had it.
      Second of three coffee selfies this week.
      Third of three coffee selfies this week.
      My head looks like a mushroom when I wear this hat.

      Front, February 2014
      Front, March 2017
      Back, February 2014
      Back, March 2017

      Social Media counts:
      YouTube subscribers: 5,293 for swankivy (lost 13), 618 for JulieSondra (5 new). Twitter followers: 846 for swankivy (no change), 1,325 for JulieSondra (2 new). Facebook: 292 friends (no change) and 206 followers (no change) for swankivy, 650 likes for JulieSondra (no change), 55 likes for Negative One (no change), 127 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,492 (1 new). Instagram followers: 103 (lost 1).

      Wednesday, March 15, 2017

      Wednesday Factoid: Hard or Easy?

      Today's Wednesday Factoid is: Are you hard or easy on yourself?

      My first inclination is to answer "hard."

      Most people who know me have heard me groan about not being productive enough, and no matter how much they reassure me that I do x and y and z, I never feel like it's really enough. I know how much I goofed off. I know how I didn't decide to fill my down time with up time. I have incredibly high standards for what I should be capable of. I think I should be able to meet those standards and I get pretty mad at myself when I don't.

      But overall, I'm probably pretty easy on myself.

      I say that because unlike some people I know, I don't hate myself, don't let expectations of society define what I should be doing or how I should think, and don't feel much of a need to seek validation. This is probably just an extension of my nature--I accept myself and most of what I want to do to be better is unrelated to feeling that I, personally, am a failure. I sometimes take this for granted and forget how rare and important it is to like myself and to not need other people's instructions or permission to exist how I like.

      So . . . both really. But yeah I'm pretty hard on myself because I know I can take it. :)

      Tuesday, March 14, 2017

      Taking Lunch

      I started taking lunch at work.

      Let me explain. See, at my old job, which I loved, I was on a part-time schedule so sometimes I'd work like five hours a day. I'd come in around lunchtime and leave before dinnertime, so it seemed like a goofy thing to do to take lunch. I got used to just working the five or six hours and sometimes eating at my desk if I was hungry, working through whatever I was doing. It seemed reasonable.

      So I wasn't quite sure how I was gonna handle it when it became clear my new job wants me to be there at 8-ish in the morning and leave at 5-ish in the evening. I wasn't used to taking lunch and was initially reluctant to do it. I wanted to just eat at my desk and go home after 8 hours, not 9. And I did that my first day. The second day a co-worker took me out to eat. The third day I worked through lunch again and left around 4. And then Thursday and Friday, I took lunch.

      Thursday I wandered down the street and found a cute French café that served breakfast and lunch. I had a breakfast plate and a glass of juice, and just relaxed.

      It was REALLY nice.

      Going back to work after a break, it just . . . it was nice. Good.

      I didn't want to develop a habit of eating out for lunch every day, so Friday I went behind the building and found a picnic table. After eating my lunch I did some drawing and reading and enjoying the outdoors.

      Again, REALLY nice.

      I thought I wasn't going to like having to take lunch because it forces me to be out of the house and "at work" longer, but having a break is way better than I thought. In the morning you're getting stuff done and working up to lunch, motivated by knowing a breather is coming (not that my work has been unpleasant--it's just, you know, it's work!). And then you come back with only a few hours left (I like to take lunch around 1 PM), and you're relaxed and chillin'. 

      I've been sort of spoiled by working part time, so eight-hour workdays were definitely a whammy for me. It probably sounds really silly to people who are used to working eight hours and more and they're thinking "of course you take lunch, you goof!" but for me it is definitely a lifestyle change and a perspective shift. The last time I had a lunch break was more than ten years ago working at the bookstore, and our breaks there were not only only half an hour but were strictly monitored and you had to rush back onto the floor to cover so someone else could get their break. This is just . . . I think it's what I need.

      I wonder what I'll do on my break today? Hopefully it's dry enough outside for me to chill at the picnic tables again.

      Saturday, March 11, 2017

      Personal Digest Saturday: March 4 – March 10

      Life news this week: 
      • Saturday was my last driving lesson. I drove for twenty-four miles on real roads and my driving instructor said I did great! But we didn't get around to important stuff like backing up and parking and doing U-turns, so I probably need at least one more lesson and definitely more practice before I am ready to take a driving test. After I got home on the bus, I was just processing online stuff and doing some e-mail.
      • Sunday I took it pretty easy for my last day before starting work. I did do some videos though. Mom came over for a few hours, and I talked to my sister on the phone for a while, and I got my stuff packed for work and wrote some e-mail and played online.
      • Monday Mom drove me to work and I had my first day. I got a temporary office space but it turns out I have to work in the main room once they get me a desk. That's okay. I spent my first day helping my new boss with two letters of response for the DOT, which is very familiar work to me, so I was able to help quite a bit with some sort of advanced administrative stuff like submitting associated paperwork for the letters and fact-checking some things. Beyond that and new employee stuff, the day went very fast! But it was also very cold in that room. Had to wear my jacket all day. Mom picked me up after and we were supposed to go to dinner but she didn't feel good so I made macaroni instead and we ate it and she fell asleep on my couch. I watched some cartoons.
      • Tuesday my mom asked to take me to work again so I said okay. I met one of the designers who usually works from home, and he taught me the beginnings of what I'll need to do some labeling stuff on their designs. It's kinda hard for me but I'm getting it. The same guy took me out for lunch at Chili's! After work Mom took me grocery shopping and dropped me off at home. I researched bus stuff so I could take the bus in the next day.
      • Wednesday was Lindsay's birthday--happy birthday sister! Successfully rode the bus in to the office and had computer issues all day long, argh. Did more design stuff, then took the bus back and met Jeaux, where we ate at Flipper's and hung out at my place. We were both sleepy so we took a nap for most of Jeaux Day sadly. After he left I did a drawing for Friday's episode and posted a book review.
      • Thursday was a good day! Bus again, and more design instruction, and I took a lunch break to walk to this cool French place near my work. I had an excellent brunch and the break was super nice to have. I am not used to taking lunches at work and I think I'm going to dig this. When I got back I helped my boss with some resumes and went home. Victor called me and I drew all the frames for Negative One.
      • Friday was also very good. This time I didn't want to go out to lunch because I don't to spend money and eat extravagantly every day, but I did like taking a break so I went out behind the building and found a little picnic table! I ate an apple and a snack mix there and read a book and did some doodles. I'm going to like doing this! At work they finally put a desk for me in the main room but I didn't get to occupy it most of the day because my computer was still messed up so the computer guy came and took it. I worked on design in another person's office for the rest of the day. Then I got a ride home, posted my comic, and went to Jeaux's for new cartoons. "Room for Ruby" was a good episode. And then I got to go home and relax!
        Reading progress:
          New singing performances:

          This week's performance was "Wuthering Heights" by Kate Bush.

          New drawings: 

          Fan art for "Room for Ruby."

          Webcomic Negative One Issue 0617: "His Kind of Pretty."

          New videos:

          My latest unlisted ukulele video is "Peace and Love" from Steven Universe. (It's a duet and I do both parts.)

          New photos:

          My new workplace has a tiny cone!
          My first foray into labeling plan sheets.
          Some of these plans are REALLY complicated-looking!
          I finally bought all the Animaniacs Funko Pop! figures.
          I have to wear a jacket and gloves because it is cold at work.
          Trying to get used to early mornings at the office.
          Lunch outside! Doing some drawing!
          Jeaux was wearing his Rubies shirt.

          Social Media counts:
          YouTube subscribers: 5,303 for swankivy (8 new), 613 for JulieSondra (lost 1). Twitter followers: 846 for swankivy (no change), 1,323 for JulieSondra (lost 4). Facebook: 292 friends (lost 1, don't know who ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ) and 206 followers (no change) for swankivy, 650 likes for JulieSondra (no change), 55 likes for Negative One (no change), 127 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,491 (lost 2). Instagram followers: 104 (no change).

          Wednesday, March 8, 2017

          Wednesday Factoid: Parents' Life

          Today's Wednesday Factoid is: Did your parents have a life before they had kids?

          I guess you'd have to ask them what they think "having a life" means. It's hard to say how to interpret that. As it was, by definition, before my time, it's hard for me to say what it was actually like for them, and though I've certainly heard stories of my parents' youth, I do know they didn't have much time before they had me. They were both in their early twenties in the late 1970s.

          My dad doesn't talk a whole lot about his youth, but he did have some interests in music and sometimes has suggested he thought he was gonna grow up to be a rock star. Other than that he just liked to chill and have fun, and when I came along he did what he had to do to support his family. 

          My mom talks about her youth more frequently, but I don't know that there was much of anything she wanted to do to "have a life" more than wanting to be a mom. When she was in school she was a cheerleader, and looooved dancing (still does). Mom has a lot of loosely related interests in various crafts, like stained glass, sewing, refinishing furniture, and other artsy stuff, and she has done quite a bit of dental assisting in her time, but none of that was work she would have preferred to pursue instead of being a mom.

          "Do you feel like you got to have a life before having us?" seems like it would be a poorly received question, maybe. I don't know how they would answer it.

          My parents the Halloween before I was born.
          Mom was a pregnant bunny. Dad was a rockstar. (That's a wig.)


          Tuesday, March 7, 2017

          New old job

          I started my new job yesterday. I got an administrative position supporting a pretty similar engineering firm to the company I worked for for more than ten years, and my position itself is also very similar to what I was doing for a decade. (Except today I'll be getting introduced to some elements of design work that I never encountered before, so we'll see how that goes. They say they'll make a designer out of me.)

          My current workstation
          So here's the thing. I was immediately thrown into helping my new boss with two letters of interest, simultaneously, and they were due later the same day. It was extremely familiar territory for me, and if I had seen something like this without my background working for engineers, I can tell you right now it would have been Martian. I was proofreading and formatting the letters, but also fact-checking the qualifications of some consultants we were teaming with (so we could list them in a required table at the end of the letter) and generating documents that always get submitted independently through another portal. I volunteered to do that for my new boss and he let me without checking anything I was doing, and it seemed like even though a lot of what I was doing was brand new, the environment for it was old, so I had all the clues I needed to find the next step.

          It's like night and day compared to when I started at my old job. I had a little bit of training on everyday stuff like how to order supplies and how to do timesheets and some hints on how the filing works. Nearly everything else I learned at the time that I had to do it, and sometimes I found things out about my job that needed to be done and no one knew to tell me, like renewing licenses and subscriptions we needed. I didn't know what a tax ID number was or why it was important. But at my new job, I didn't just know where it was needed; I had a good idea of where that information would be even though nobody told me.

          I figured out the copy machine and scanning system. I picked up how the digital filing and disk hierarchy works. I caught omissions and mistakes in the letters and knew the right questions to ask to make sure they got addressed. And it feels kind of weird being in a new job but not really feeling like I'm new because I know so much of what I'm doing already on Day 1. 

          I think maybe the designing part isn't going to be like that. And some of my upcoming assignments aren't going to be like that. I hope they won't be disappointed after my first day involved being able to jump right in and help them. 

          Saturday, March 4, 2017

          Personal Digest Saturday: February 25 – March 3

          Life news this week: 
          • This was SUCH an eventful week! It was kind of unwise of me to cram so much into my last week before going back to work at a new job, but I guess at least it was a good choice so I don't chew my hands off worrying about things I can't control.
          • Saturday this week was Drink and Draw. I spent most of the day reading and blogging stuff so I could have the night free, and then I hung out with my friends in Community Café for the event. (We usually meet at Cafe Hey, but they couldn't host us this time, so we had to go to my friend Mandy's café in St. Pete.) There I hung with Joy, Eric, Belle, Kali, and William mostly. I tried a weird sampler platter because I was feeling adventurous, so I ate pita bread and chips with pesto, black bean hummus, and cream cheese avocado dip. It was all good! I got my webcomic drawings done for So You Write and also managed to draw a little sketch of the character Bismuth from Steven Universe.
          • Sunday I woke up early enough to go to the Not Just For Omnivores Brunch at Cafe Hey, so I took Uber out there. I had a weird feeling that I should go for some important reason, but the only important reason was that I apparently REALLY NEEDED to eat vegan chicken and waffles. One of the owners, Cheong, who runs Drink and Draw when we have it in Tampa, came out to chat with me briefly, but mostly I just ate my food and didn't talk to anyone, haha. I took a nap, did my music, made a writing video, and posted my new So You Write webcomic.
          • Monday I hung out with my family. Lindsay and Mike (sister and brother-in-law) were in town! They picked me up at my apartment and we drove out to Sarasota to hang out with my dad, his partner, and our grandpa. We ate lunch at an Italian place (but I had an omelet), and then we hung out at my grandpa's place for a while and caught up. Then we booked it back to my mom's and had lasagna she'd cooked for us. My sister played with her dogs and we just hung out, and later Mike went to visit one of his friends so it was just us three hangin' out. I did some light cleaning in the kitchen and my mom was super appreciative because she's a nerd. :) When I got home again I did some laundry. I'm productive.
          • Tuesday I asked my previous boss Jerry to send me some example documents of the kind of letters I used to do, so I can show them to my new boss. He sent them! Yay! I went out to the phone store and signed up to buy a new phone because my phone just keeps wigging out on me (shutting off in the middle of operations, rebooting itself infinitely, suddenly saying it has 0 battery even though it had 70% battery a minute ago, etc.). They didn't have any of the model I wanted to buy, so I paid for it and they said I'd get a call. Then I went to Target, went grocery shopping, and went home. I cleaned up my apartment, made a cute photoset of Garnet for Tumblr (and it got reblogged to hell and back because Tumblr is full of nerds). And I read some of a driving manual.
          • Wednesday I had my first driving lesson! It was weird getting behind the wheel of a car for the first time in twenty years. My instructor, Andy, is a good match for me when it comes to how I learn. He took me to a parking lot and instructed me on making very tight right turns for most of the lesson. He said I was doing well. My phone died while trying to get a paid ride back, but it rebooted and was okay to order the car. I took a short nap and then had Jeaux Day. We ate at Panera and then I let him use my laptop for some nerd thing he was doing, but it took all night. We listened to the latest Night Vale and I drew a fanart picture and some of my webcomic.
          • Thursday was pretty awful. I missed the bus to go to my driving lesson so I had to do a paid ride again, and the lesson itself was okay (practicing left turns and then combinations of turns, and I drove around a mall in real traffic twice). Then I tried to be fancy getting the bus home but I got lost, and then when I gave up trying to find my way home, my phone died and I couldn't call for help or a paid ride. So I HAD to ride the bus and managed to get home four hours after the end of my lesson. Yuck. At least with all that bus-riding I had plenty of time to read one of my Pitch Wars mentees' published book, Welcome to the Slipstream by Natalka Burian. Then I biked to the phone store and finally got my new phone, so I shouldn't have those problems anymore. I chatted online to my friend Paul and learned how to make GIFs so I used my fantastic skills to make a Garnet-related GIFset, of course.
          • Friday I had plans with Victor. I took the bus out to the mall (didn't get lost!) and we went shopping. I bought some cute new clothes and he and I went to the bookstore and got bubble tea together. Then I went back to my neighborhood (didn't get lost!) and walked to Jeaux's house for the new Steven Universe episode, "Tiger Philanthropist." It was cute and fun. I called my mom on my new phone and chatted to her on the walk home. Oh, and I got my comic up early in the day before setting out to hang with Victor, so I didn't have any pressing concerns. Hooray!
            Interviews, Features, Mentions:

            • Carrel Books Spring 2017: I'm listed in my publisher's catalog again, page 11.
            • Plotter vs. Pantser: Shawna's Blog of Doom discussed plotter vs. pantsers issues for writers and embedded/credited one of my webcomics. This was actually at the beginning of February but I missed the ping at the time.

            Reading progress:
            • Finished this week: Welcome to the Slipstream by Natalka Burian. Five-star review.
            • If you missed my review for Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel last week (because I posted it really late): Five-star review.
            • Currently reading: Avatar: The Search: Volume 3 by Bryan Konietzko & Michael DiMartino.
              New singing performances:

              This week's performance was "Dear Jessie" by Madonna.

              New drawings: 

              Drink and Draw sketch of Bismuth doing a project in her forge.

              Baby Garnet doodle
              Fan art for "Tiger Philanthropist."

              Webcomic So You Write Issue 69: "Ripoff."

              Webcomic Negative One Issue 0616: "Formative."

              New videos:

              My new writing video is called Starting Over. It's about if you have to start from scratch or totally rewrite a manuscript.

              My latest unlisted ukulele video is "Iowa" by Dar Williams.

              New photos:

              Me: Drink and Draw.

              Eric at Drink and Draw drinking from a Birthday Princess glass.
              Vegan chicken and waffles at Cafe Hey's Not Just for Omnivores Brunch.
              A vegan brownie I bought at Cafe Hey.
              My sister's spoiled little boy.
              Baby Garnet, doodled to celebrate my fan blog hitting 300 followers.
              Me about to get my first driving lesson!
              My friend Heather got me these fingerless gloves from Etsy.
              Me at Bobacup with my bubble tea.
              Getting bubble tea with Victor.
              My driving instructor told me to practice steering with a pizza pan.
              The car I've been driving at my lessons!

              Social Media counts:
              YouTube subscribers: 5,295 for swankivy (lost 2), 614 for JulieSondra (lost 2). Twitter followers: 846 for swankivy (3 new), 1,327 for JulieSondra (7 new). Facebook: 293 friends (no change) and 206 followers (no change) for swankivy, 650 likes for JulieSondra (lost 1), 55 likes for Negative One (no change), 127 likes for So You Write (no change). Tumblr followers: 2,493 (lost 1). Instagram followers: 104 (2 new).

              Thursday, March 2, 2017

              A tale of incompetence

              Hey guess what? I'm taking driving lessons.

              I have taken two out of the three lessons I paid for and the third one will be Saturday. 

              Me at the Safety Council wearing my "Let Me Drive My Van (Into Your Heart)" shirt
              (Because driving, get it?)

              I never learned to drive when I was younger for a few reasons: I never had a particular interest in it (like, I even had no interest in driving a golf cart around for my dad, or playing driving video games); I hung out with the people from the class above mine so they all got their licenses before I was old enough to and I didn't need to get my license to have any independence since someone could always drive; I lived in a college town for ten years and it was easy to get from one end of it to the other on a bike or bus; and most importantly, I am terrible with directions so I figured driving would lead me into all kinds of opportunities to get lost in new and exotic locations.

              Driving is going okay. I'm no whiz, but I'm not hopeless or terrible. My instructor says I'm a good driver! And when we finally went around the mall a couple times and I was faced with actual driving situations and other cars, he said I did fantastic! But some of the orientation is tough for me (I seem to sort of hug the center line because I'm giving the opposite side of the car too much space), and to be honest I don't really have the feel of how turning works consistently. I always remember my blinker and I'm very observant about possible hazards in the road, though. My instructor said that's probably from all my biking experience.

              Here's where the tale of incompetence starts. I had a really crappy day today, on the day of my second lesson.

              For the first lesson, I got a paid ride to the site because I'd never seen it before and wasn't sure how hard it would be to find on the bus. I'd already written out a bunch of bus instructions I got from the Internet but I didn't trust myself because well I know how I am. If it's possible to screw it up, I will do it, again and again and again.

              Pay attention to that again and again and again part. It's important for today's debacle.

              So I got a paid ride there and back the first day. But I decided I should take the bus today to save money. I left a little later than intended, and had to stop at the corner store to buy coffee so I'd have change for the bus pass. I got to the stop in time to watch the bus leave. So it was really close, but I missed the bus. Checking my bus app, I see that waiting for the next one will get me there five minutes late, and my instructor seems like the type who would not like lateness, so I decided to walk back home and just do the paid ride again. (The walk to and from the bus stop is 20 minutes each way, by the way. So I walked 40 minutes for nothing.)

              The ride in was fine. The driving lesson was fine. Then I decided to take the bus home. To save money, ha ha ha ha.

              I reversed the directions I'd written down and got on a bus labeled route 1. It was the route 1 going the wrong way. And I'd kinda thought this might be the case even before I got on, because I thought it was actually the same bus I'd be taking TO my destination. Which means I was getting on it at the point I need to get off it for my driving school, and it was going to continue downtown.

              The bus went to a transit center and a group of people got on. Then when the bus started turning this one group got up shouting about how they got on the wrong Bus 1 and didn't want to go downtown. They pulled the bell and got off and grumbled about having to walk back to the transit center and get on the right Bus 1, but they didn't want to get stuck going downtown.

              I didn't want to go downtown either. I thought uh maybe I should have followed those people and got on the same Bus 1 they were getting on.

              Yeah, I should have done that.

              So, I was downtown. . . . 

              You see where this is going, right?

              The downtown center was the end of the line so I got off, compared some directions on my app with the directions on the printed schedules, and concluded that I could take Bus 6 to Bus 15 to Bus 36 to get back into my neighborhood.

              I asked the bus driver if that was doable, just to make sure. She said yeah, but gave me a weird look and I said "So is that stupid?"

              She said it was possible but I might miss the 15 if it was early. But I could try it, she said. So I got on the 6. Rode it and got off at the right stop (one thing I did right!). And then I walked to THE WRONG BUS 15 STOP. I didn't see the second one on the other side of the street and again did not realize this one would be going the wrong direction. (I literally have no understanding of how this stuff works; if you ask me what direction I need to go, I can't tell you. Like, I cannot. I can't tell you if I need to go north or south or east or west. I can't point and say it's that way. I have ABSOLUTELY NO CONCEPT. I need it to be handed to me in very literal step by step instructions or I cannot do it. And when I try, I get lost for four hours.)

              So continues the story of how I continued to be lost.

              I checked my app and the bus was due in 3 minutes. Yay! But then I saw the bus stopping across the street going in the other direction, and figured . . . yep that was the one I was supposed to be on. There was no way to get on it. So I just kinda sat there for a minute trying to figure out what to do on my app. A woman with three kids wandered up and started asking me when the bus comes and if I have a lighter. Do not ask me for traveling information. You will die.

              I decided maybe I should just see if I could get a bus back to the transit center and get on the correct Bus 1. I went back to the Bus 6 stop I'd gotten off at. At that point a guy was standing there and he started asking me if I know how to get to some place I've never heard of. I told him no and I'd never heard of it. He tried to ask me another question and I'm like "Look buddy I have been lost for hours, I still don't know how I'm getting home." He asked me how long I've lived here and I said "Eleven years." He made a gross face at me and said it was amazing that I could get lost in a place I've lived for that long.


              I wandered away and figured I give up, I'm calling a paid ride again.

              That was when my phone died. 

              It wouldn't boot up and claimed it was out of battery. (It's been doing this for weeks. I have another phone on order, an upgrade, and was supposed to pick it up today.) 

              So I couldn't check the app and I couldn't call for a car and I couldn't call for help, and there were all these weird buildings around with bars and boards on the windows and people standing on the street screaming and smoking. Hooray. I wasn't comfortable trying to find a business where I could charge my phone--it seemed like nothing was open really. So I just got on the first bus that came and figured eventually it would go to a transit center and I would have more options.

              It was the Bus 6 again. And it looked like it had this very very long route that ended up all the way across town but had a connection to Bus 33. 33! I know that route. It stops near my house. It's one of the buses that goes to my closest bus stop 20 minutes' walk from my house. 

              So I sat on that bus until it got to the end of the line, got off it, got on the 33, and let that thing take me again clear across town until I got home. My lesson ended at noon but I didn't get home until 4:00 PM.

              I plugged my phone in and when it had enough of a charge to call my phone store, they said yeah my replacement phone actually did come in but they tried to call and just kept getting voicemail.



              What I want to end with here is that I am not good at certain things that many many people take for granted--they think I can do them, or that I should be able to do them, or that I'm exaggerating when I say I do things like get lost on buses for 4 hours or get lost inside of a bathroom in a foreign country. I am, like, bizarrely incompetent at these things. It goes above and beyond just basic lol no sense of direction. No matter what I do and even with tools to help me, I mess it up.

              For this glitch in my competence, I have been regarded with judgment like you wouldn't believe. Most of it is laced with blame and accusation--as if I am doing poorly at this because I'm not applying myself, not "paying attention" (I am paying attention! I just don't understand what I'm looking at!), or trying to avoid challenges. None of these are proper descriptions of my problem. And there are several other basic things I don't do/have never done--like driving--that people seem to enjoy treating me with condescension over.

              So let me just say what a relief it is to have a driving instructor who treats me like a beginner and doesn't talk to me like it's eyeroll-worthy that I don't already know how to do certain things, and accepts that I need practice, and understands that beginners make mistakes, and is basically able to work with me from scratch to help my abilities grow. He's not out to shame me for what I can't do and he hasn't attacked me or rubbed mistakes in my face. He points out when I make errors, and he works with me to help me understand where my issues are and what I can do to correct them, and he absorbs patterns in my strengths and weaknesses to build better driving skills with me. 

              He's treating me like a beginner who hasn't been behind the wheel of a car for twenty years. It's hard to express how much I appreciate that.

              You can make fun of me a little for sucking at the buses, I guess, but would it be too much to ask that you not try to shame me for it? I already don't feel great about how limited my life is sometimes because I can't navigate, and furthermore, making me feel like it's ridiculous that I don't do something well just makes me feel like it's hopeless to try it. And then I'm certainly not going to learn anything. I live in the world. I know it's pretty unusual to be as grossly incompetent as I am at navigation. I'm not happy that I'm the person who leaves to go to the restroom and can't find our table in the restaurant again. It's not fun for me to have a random lost guy at the bus stop mock me when I am lost and I have no idea what I'm going to do. I already feel about as dumb over this as I'm ever going to feel, and I do my best to combat my known incompetence with tools (which are tough to use if they go out on you, ugh).

              If you don't have it in you to be a good coach for someone who isn't as good as you are at something, at least try for a little patience, or failing that, just keeping your words to yourself. Do you want to help or do you want to make me think my mistakes are so unacceptable that it would be better for me not to try?