rowyn: (Default)
I've been a car owner for 15 days now. My car's name is Ardent Purr the Adoracar, because decision is for other areas of my life. As of the 14 day mark, I'd driven her about 500 miles. This seems like a ridiculously high number. I checked and it's below average for an American driver. Americans are crazy about driving.

Lut was supposed to be moved to a rehab facility today, but I just called the hospital and he hasn't been moved yet. Given that it's 4:30 now, I don't think it's happening now. Assuming it happens eventually, my miles-per-day will go down, because the new facility is a little closer. It's about the same time to get to, though, because it's all street driving instead of a highway option. If he does well in rehab and can come home, my average driving will go down a lot more. Please pray for us, things are not looking great. v_v

I am tired all the time now, even when I get a full eight hours of sleep. People keep saying "don't forget to take care of yourself" and I wish I could. I'm eating as much and as well as I did before Lut went to the hospital. The main thing I gave up was exercise. I do not have time to commute 90 minutes a day and work full time and see Lut for a few hours each day and still exercise.

I am still editing. I've hacked about 12,000 words out of the manuscript now. I am startled by how much of that is just "saying the same basic thing more concisely". I still need to add a few things, but I'm just changing stuff as I get to it at this point.

I've written a little fiction, but only a little. I miss the #PollRPG -- I was thinking about it when I did the first title poll this week -- but I am not sure what to do with that. Writing a story where people shape the results as I go means I can't build a buffer or plan out the story that much, and "write when I feel like it" doesn't work that well if I want an audience to follow it at the same pace. Editing and writing at my own pace works okay with the cancer lifestyle. Not so much on a schedule. :| Maybe I will do a poll about it at some point.
rowyn: (smile)
I have acquired New Car. Many thanks to everyone who offered car-buying advice!

It is a 2017 Toyota Corolla LE, chosen for its combination of safety features, size (Lut does not fit well in a subcompact, which is what I'd've bought otherwise), reliability, and price. Telnar offered to walk me through the process of car research via Consumer Reports. I made sad pitiful noises at him, and asked if I could just turn the puzzle upside down and see what the answer was instead. So he did the research and gave me a few options and the reasoning behind them.

After settling on a car, I did go through Consumer Reports myself. Dealing with dealerships online was surprisingly painless. There are three Toyota dealerships in my area.

Dealership # 1: "We have two Toyota Corollas in stock. Call us to find out about pricing."
Dealership #2: "We have three Toyota Corollas in stock. We want over $1,000 more for them than Consumer Reports, which we know you were just looking at, thinks they're worth."
Adams Toyota: "We are researching what we have on the lot and will get back to you shortly!"

Based on this, Telnar formulated a sophisticated gameplan for pitting dealerships against each other to get the best price, which included "broaden your scope to other near-ish cities as necessary." While we were trying to get a price out of dealership #1, Adams Toyota emailed me:

"We'll sell you a Toyota Corolla LE for $500 less than what Consumer Reports says is fair, and slightly less than the average price for your area."

At that point, I just said, "That sounds good and they didn't make me dicker for it. Sold."

I called my local friend Corwyn and asked if he would come substitute for Lut in a test drive of the car: that is, sit in the passenger seat and make sure he fits. Corwyn is taller than Lut and of a similar build, although obviously Lut, with two compression fractures in his spine, has more flexibility issues. Still, he could give me an idea.

The Corolla is snug for Corwyn, but he does fit. I told Charly, the salesman, that I would take it. I picked out a black one, because they had several colors and if you could get black why wouldn't you get black?* I could've saved seventy-five dollars or so by getting a white one that came with cheaper floor mats**, but I decided I was willing to pay a slight premium for black, after all.

It's possible that if I'd been more dithery, or if I'd waited a month or two until they were more desperate to make room for 2018s (they had a lot of 2017 Toyota Corolla LEs in stock), I could've gotten a better price, but I am content.

I made the decision to purchase on July 27, and requested a 401(k) "loan" the same day. Name notwithstanding, this is not an actual loan. There is no approval or qualification process: I ask for it, I get it. In effect, it is me taking the money out of my 401(k) and formally promising to pay myself back (at 3% interest). It's not like a margin loan, where I'd pay interest to a third party while my money remained invested. I'm paying myself. If I failed to pay myself back, then I'd have to pay the government the early withdrawal penalty and taxes for the money I took out of the 401(k), but there's no collections process involved. It's all my own money.

The next day, the 401(k) people told me it would take 3-5 business days to fund it. I emailed this to Charly: "So I should be back between 8/1 and 8/4, depending on whether or not yesterday counts as the 1st business day."

At 9:30am on 8/2, Charly emailed me for a status update. I hadn't heard that the loan had been funded yet, but I work at my bank so I checked my account.

The funds had arrived 30 minutes prior. I went to the teller line to get a cashier's check (they would've taken a personal check, but I don't know where my checkbook is -- who writes check? -- and I work at a bank so cashier's checks are easy and free) and emailed Corwyn to get a ride. By 10:30, we were on our way to the dealership. Having made the decision, I was really impatient to finish the whole process.

Which still took like two hours, even though I was paying in cash. Buying a car is complicated.

I returned the rental that evening, with oddly mixed feelings. Yes, it is cool to finally have my own car, but I've been renting from the same office at Enterprise for eight years or so. They all know me. And up until now, when I need a car every day, it was a very cost-effective way of handling my transportation needs. I am kind of sad not to be doing it any more. Even now, I wonder if I should've gone with a short-term car lease, or some kind of arrangement where I'd have a car for several months, until Lut is stable and at home, and then go back to renting a car as needed.

But owning a car does save time, vs going to the rental place and picking one up, and returning it afterwards.

And the Corolla is beautiful and I love her. As soon as I purchased her, I stopped being practical about her and became immediately sentimental. I may end up as one of those people who washes their car every month. I'm sorry.

She is a much fancier car than I would have acquired, left to my own devices. She doesn't have any extras (beyond the pricer floor mats), but lots of things come standard on a Toyota Corolla LE. The standard things that made me pick this model of car are safety features, like pre-collision detection and automatic braking.

Some things that I thought were just safety features turn out to be nice features for general driving. For instance, its cruise control is coupled with a radar system that detects when a car is in front of you and slows down accordingly. This makes cruise control so much more useful. Even when the road is crowded, I can leave cruise control on and the car will automatically adjust the speed whenever someone pulls in front of me or I catch up to someone moving slower. I use cruise control for the nine-mile highway drive from my home to the hospital, which I've never bothered doing on any other model of car. It's nice.

It also has a USB port, so I can plug in my iPod for music without needing any intervening doodads, which is convenient. And I can charge devices off of it with just a USB cable.

Those are the main extra things that I routinely use. It has a bunch of other doodads, like it syncs with my phone to take phone calls. I am honestly not sure this is a great feature, since even hands-free phone calls are a distraction when driving. But Charly set it up so it's there for when the hospital calls while I'm driving. Until the bluetooth thing randomly fails, which is my usual experience with bluetooth.

Of course, I took pictures of her:

Shiny New Car

With lens flaaaare

I want to get decorative magnetic decals for her, but it may be too much effort to find/make the kind of thing I want. I'd like a trim design similar to City of Heroes' "tribal" pattern, to curve along fenders and the bottoms of the doors. I haven't seen anything like what I want. A bunch of die-cut flowers, though. Maybe I will bling her out with those.

I haven't settled on her name yet (of course she is going to have a name). I am debating between Purr (after one of my black dragons in Flight Rising) and Ardent (after The Moon Etherium protagonist.) So I'll put in a poll for her name!

Poll #18661 Name that Car!
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 13


What should I call her?

View Answers

Purr
7 (58.3%)

Ardent
5 (41.7%)

Write-in options:



* I may have been ruined for other car colors at a young age by K.I.T.T.
** I don't know why car floor mats are expensive, but they are.
rowyn: (worried)
Lut is still at the hospital. He's in a regular room now, and he's off the IV and the monitoring equipment, which is nice (no more wires to worry about every time he moves). He's been eating on his own. He gets up a couple of times a day, with assistance, and sits in the hospital room recliner or stands by the window for a little bit.  Other than that, he mostly sleeps or tries to sleep. His back hasn't been hurting as much and he hasn't been needing a lot of pain meds, which is good.

His mood is good under the circumstances. He knows where he is and he's polite, patient, and appreciative. Conversations with him don't work very well. I can't tell if he's having delusions or just trying to tell me about a dream or a game he used to play or something. Physically, he's better than when I took him to the ER 3 weeks ago, but I don't think the hospital is really helping his mental state. And he's not reading or playing with a computer or any of his normal activities, because he's too tired even for things he can do while lying in bad. At most, he'll watch a show, and he doesn't have attention for even that most days.

Case management at the hospital is trying to place him at a skilled nursing facility. He is to get rehab there and then he'll be able to come home when he's better able to take care of himself. Placement at a skilled nursing facility is hard, because of some combination of insurance, Lut's particular needs, available space at facilities, and probably some other things I'm not thinking of.

I have some lists of good car models for my needs and the probable prices for them. I have not gone shopping for one yet. I should probably do that this week. I kind of have the feeling I will go with the first dealership that has a reasonable car on the lot and doesn't seem like total scum. I do not have high expectations.
rowyn: (worried)
Lut's siblings came in last weekend, all four of them. I suspect I appreciated this more than Lut did. Bone marrow cancer causes a lot of fatigue: it's not just "he's in pain so he doesn't sleep well so he's always tired", as I thought before I brought him to the hospital. He just doesn't have a lot of energy. Maybe five or six spoons total for the day. Interacting with someone for a few minutes takes a spoon. It's hard.

On Saturday, I asked them to look at skilled nursing facilities for me. They ran all over the city, looking at the ones on the printout the hospital had provided. They were kind of horrified by most of them. They got to the last one on the list too late for a tour, and they told me I should look at it because it looked nice based on its website.

I went to that one and it looked good in person too: clean, well-lit, cheerful, good facilities. I went to the one his siblings liked the best of the ones they saw, and thought it was pretty good too. It was a hard choice for me, because the facility the siblings hadn't toured was a newer, nicer building with better grounds, but the rooms were smaller and most of them were "semi-private": they'd share a bathroom and a little foyer-hall with an adjacent room, and only a curtain separated them from the little foyer. It wasn't as a bad a shared room: there was a real wall between the two rooms. But a curtain is not nearly as good as a door when it comes to blocking sound. The more run-down facility had larger rooms and they were all private.

I tried to consult Lut on it on Monday, but he was too exhausted to give an opinion and the hospital wanted one in the next few hours. So I picked the nicer facility. I can hope he'll luck into a private room? I don't know how this will work with insurance. They are crazy expensive without.

At the hospital, they moved him from the ICU back to the regular ward last night. He doesn't seem to me like he's ready to be discharged to anywhere, but he's off the IV and they've detached all of the other wires they've had him hooked up to. They didn't even have him on a heart monitor when I saw him this morning. The case manager in the ICU thought he might be discharged this week. I don't know how long he'll be at the skilled nursing facility, except that it is short-term care, not long-term. The idea is that he gets rehab there, and then he can come home.

He doesn't seem to be in as much pain now, but he is exhausted every time I see him. Even when we get him sitting upright in a chair, he dozes off in a matter of minutes. If the chemotherapy works, he'll regain some energy, but I don't think rehab on its own is going to get him any more spoons.

I don't know what to say. People keep asking me how he's doing and it is exhausting to try to answer. Badly, but stable? He's better than last week but not better than when I took him to the ER. The oncologist is optimistic about the chemotherapy. He gets his second treatment today.

Prayers and well-wishes still appreciated. Thank you all for the car advice, too. *hugs*
rowyn: (worried)
I went through Lut's email and found some email addresses from 2009 for family members. I tried emailing, and reached one of his brothers and one of his sisters. They contacted the rest of his family for me, so his family knows now. Three of his siblings are going to come on Friday to see him.

He's looking better this morning. Still delusional, but he's calm, articulate, and willing to accept assistance. He's breathing better and when he dozes off it looks more like actual sleep. I don't know if this will be a sustained upwards trend, but I'm hopeful.

He started chemotherapy on Tuesday. He gets one treatment per week for two weeks, then one week off, then repeat. In 6-9 weeks we'll know if it's working. The chemotherapy includes a steroid, and he's on an antiviral because the chemotherapy weakens his immune system. He's also getting Halidol for his neurological issues. And an antibiotic because he was running a fever for a little while.

For my hospital-related transportation problem: I am thinking about buying a new car, rather than a used one. I can afford it: I only live like a poor person, I am not actually poor. I don't have enough ready cash to buy one, annoyingly. I may look into getting a loan against my 401(k), to avoid paying third-party interest or early withdrawal penalties. I don't know if this will qualify or not.

Recommendations on cars are welcome. Pretty much all I want is a good cost-per-mile figure and cheap to insure. I do not need or want any fancy extras, or a sporty car or an SUV or anything. I am perfectly happy with small, reliable and efficient. -_-
rowyn: (worried)
Thank you, everyone, for your well-wishes. ♥

Lut's biopsy results came back yesterday and confirmed multiple myeloma. His oncologist started him on an antiviral yesterday, and today he stars chemotherapy and a steroid. The oncologist thinks that this has a good chance (70%+) of improving his situation, including his mental state.

His mental state has crumbled almost completely. He still knows who he is, and who I am, and that's about it. He's paranoid and delusional, and generally angry at everyone around him for holding him captive while we try to get him healthy enough to return to reality. x_x

The oncologist said it would be 6-9 weeks before we know if the chemotherapy is working. His nurse yesterday thought the steroids might have a beneficial effect on his mental state in the short term, like the next few days.

I hope so, because he's only gotten worse so far.

I looked through his gmail and found email addresses for three of his siblings, from 2009. I tried emailing them this morning to let them know. One of the addresses bounced. I don't know if the others are still active or not.

I have a rental car for a month. I think I should probably buy a car. I am not ready to face doing that yet, and I kind of need to.

In theory, he qualifies for Medicaid and disability, especially since we're not married. Since we're not married, I can't sign documents for him. He is neither lucid enough nor tractable enough to sign documents himself. I haven't figured out how I am supposed to get around this yet. I will talk to the hospital staff today and see if they know. The application form wants a bunch of medical specifics that I don't have anyway.
rowyn: (worried)
Last Friday, I took Lut, my partner for the last 20 years, to the emergency room due to severe back pain and some other worrisome issues: he'd started bruising very easily, and he'd had a few odd cognitive problems. The night before, he'd referred to windows as a "vents" repeatedly, insisting for several minutes that "vent" was the right word even after I pointed it out. I thought the cognitive impairment was from lack of sleep: he'd been hurting a lot and unable to sleep properly due to the pain.

I had expected the ER trip to result in "we don't know what's wrong with him, here's a referral to a specialist and a physical therapist."

Instead, they discovered a whole host of things-wrong-with-him, all of which pointed to multiple myeloma: bone marrow cancer. The specific thing that's causing the back pain is two fractured/compressed vertebrae. The PA in the ER admitted him to the hospital. He has been there since. They had him in the oncology ward until Thursday, when they did a biopsy under a sedative because he'd been unable to lie on his side for the time needed to do it under a local anesthetic. His heart stopped under the anesthetic, and they revived him but moved him to the PCU. Then they moved him to the ICU because the biospy site kept bleeding.

The biopsy site has since stopped bleeding and they said they'd move him back to the PCU yesterday, but he's still in ICU now because there isn't a room in the PCU for him.

This has been the worst week of my life to date. A little voice in my head keeps adding "and there are going to be worse ones than this yet to come." This is the downside of getting older.

Lut's overall condition has generally deteriorated since he was admitted. For the first few days, he'd have occasional confusion: he didn't know where he was or what was going on or why. He had hallucinations and delusions as well, explanations his brain made up for things it could no longer understand rationally. For a while, he'd snap out of the confusion after a few minutes (or sometimes half a day) and be back to himself, although he still had trouble with some normal mental activities.

By Wednesday night, the confusion and hallucinations were persistent rather than occasional. He hasn't understood where he is and what's happening for the last four days.

I don't know what's going on with his head at all. They did a scan on it a week ago Saturday because of the occasional confusion, but it didn't show anything. It could be several things: lower oxygen in his blood, higher ammonia, pain medication, I forget what else. But they've addressed those things and it doesn't seem to get better.

I really want him back to rational again. He's aware that he's not rational and it scares him. I know, from prior conversations with him, that he never wanted to be alive with severe cognitive impairment.

When we checked him in to the hospital, they asked about a DNR and he looked at me. I said, "Resuscitate him." He was in bad shape but he was still himself.

I keep wondering if I made the right call.

And it's too late now to ask him.

The biopsy results will not be back until Monday or Tuesday, and the oncologist can't make a formal diagnosis and start treatment until then.

I spent 24 hours at work last week, and I've come home to sleep and feed the cat every day except Thursday night, when I slept in the ICU. My waking hours have pretty much been at the hospital since Lut was admitted. I had a rental car for several days last week, and I'm going to rent one for a month starting Monday because it seems pretty clear that I'll need one. Biking to the hospital isn't a problem -- it's a 15 mile round trip and I routinely ride 10 miles after work anyway. But it takes too long, and I'd rather spend that time with Lut.

If I don't actually need a car for the entire month because Lut suddenly gets much better and comes home and only needs rare follow-up trips, I am totally taking it as a win. Please, Universe, feel free to make me waste money in this fashion. Thank you.

Renting a car for a month at a time is not a great long-term solution. I should probably buy one. But buying a car is a complicated expensive decision and renting a car is easy so I'm just doing that for now. Hopefully in 30 days I can figure out what our needs are and find a better fix.

I'm probably not going to be responding to comments. This is a pretty hard topic to write about, which is part of why it's taken so long to post something. Well wishes and prayers are appreciated, however.

Also, you don't have to say anything. I never know what to say in situations like this either. It's all right. Sometimes there aren't words.

Flattened

Jun. 28th, 2017 08:36 pm
rowyn: (tired)
Some time-consuming family health issues have left me flattened lately. And I don't want to talk about it, but I did want to say that this is why I haven't been posting Poll RPGs for the last few weeks. I've been doing some editing, but I don't seem to have much brain for writing new stories now. x_x

But all will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of thing will be well.

So posts will continue to be sporadic and at random and probably lengthy intervals. Y'all take care of yourselves. *hugs*
rowyn: (Me 2012)
Some time shortly after I moved to Kansas City -- so almost 20 years ago, I'd guess -- I visited my friends and relatives on the east coast. One of the things I wanted while I was out there was cheese blintzes. These are a kind of crepe wrapped about a filling of sweetened farmer's cheese. I love them and you can get good ones in restaurants on the east coast, and mediocre frozen ones in groceries, and you can't find them at all in the midwest. (Or they are horrible imitation cheese blintzes full of sorrow and despair, like the dreadful cottage-cheese-stuffed-pancakes that IHOP used to sell).

We went to one restaurant for breakfast that had a huge buffet, and my sister, Margaret, told me that they usually had blintzes out. But we went through the buffet and there weren't any.

So when the waiter came over to ask how we were doing, I asked if they had any blintzes. He told me he'd see what he could do. Several minutes later, he returned with a plate of them, to my delight and surprise.

My sister*, Margaret, commented afterwards, "That just made me realize that, if you want something, sometimes it helps if, in some fashion, you actually tell somebody that you do."

For whatever reason, this moment has stuck with me since then. I was thinking about it on Tuesday, because my department was buying pizza for all the associates on Wednesday, and the coordinator emailed me to ask what I wanted. Pizza is not my favorite food, although there are a few kinds that I like and one that is even sold by a pizza-delivery place. But my absolute favorite thing from a pizza-delivery place is Domino's "pasta in a bread bowl", which is, by the way, amazing. It's like pasta inside a deep-dish pan pizza. I get it with alfredo sauce and spinach and pineapple.

I am the only member of my department at my location, so I decided, what the heck, I will ask for the kind of thing I actually really like, even if it is complicated and not actually pizza. And I gave my pizza preference too, just in case.

The coordinator emailed me back: "I think we can get you your very favorite thing :)".

So that was my lunch Wednesday, and my lunch again Thursday because the thing is large and chock-full of about a billion calories (I think they baste the bread bowl with garlic butter or something. It is so delicious).

Anyway, it made me silly-happy to get the thing I wanted instead of a thing that would be merely okay. Sometimes it is high-maintenance to ask for what you want, but sometimes it works out just fine. ♥

* Technically, Margaret was my sister-in-law at the time. She and my brother have since gotten divorced, which happens and my brother has a new wife and I love her too. But I am keeping Margaret so she's still my sister.
rowyn: (worried)
I went to Starbucks on Sunday. The weather was iffy for bike riding: small chance of showers before 2PM, than larger chance of rain/thunderstorm after 2PM. So I left the house a little before 11AM and planned to get home by 2PM.

The three-mile ride to Starbucks is a lot longer when it's cold and damp and I haven't regularly biked outside in several weeks. An eight-mile ride to Panera (sixteen both ways) was out of the question, given the probability of rain and the narrow window in which I was likely to avoid the worst of it.

At Starbucks, I ordered chai with no water, on the advice of a Twitter friend. It was very crowded at Starbucks, so I took the only empty table, a small high one in a corner, with a man at the adjacent table also using a laptop. We exchanged a few amiable remarks about the crowd and then devoted ourselves to our respective electronic devices. After five or ten minutes, the man left, and I had the corner to myself for a few minutes, until a different man approached. He said, "Good morning," in a friendly way, and offered his hand.

"Hi there!" I replied, cheerfully, because I am not adverse to a few minutes of random chitchat with strangers at a coffee shop. I shook his hand.

"What I am about to say will change your life!" he told me. He sat down, shifted to close and leaned back to look at my laptop screen.

My categorization instantly went from "friendly stranger" to "scammer." I am not one of those people who has been so conditioned to be polite that they will be nice to anyone, no matter the circumstances. I am fine with being rude. "Excuse me," I told him. "I am very busy." I changed the angle of my body and my laptop so that I could use it without him seeing my screen, and then I steadfastly ignored him. Or more accurately, did not visibly react to anything else he did.

He muttered something like, "Fine, I'm never gonna tell you", to which I thought great, please shut up and leave me alone. He continued to mutter at me for a few minutes, sitting sideways in his seat so that he could face me. Then he shifted to face forward, and started loudly telling a group of three women three tables away that someone had taught Jessica to be racist. I don't know who Jessica is or what she did that was racist. I am pretty sure that the three women he was ranting at did not know either.

At this point, one of the Starbucks baristas caught my eye with a look of 'do you need help?' and I tried to signal 'HEAVENS PLEASE YES' without actually saying anything or acknowledging Creepy Guy's existence. I was fussing with my bag to get out my headphones and iPod in an effort to get a bonus to my Ignore Harassment roll.

The barista leaned against Creepy Guy's table and told him, firmly, that he was being too loud, and he wasn't even a customer, and he needed to stop annoying the patrons.

Creepy Guy shut up for about five minutes. I had my headphones on by this point. I'd been trying to get some writing done but was making very little progress because DRAMA. After five minutes of peace, Creepy Guy decided he needed to talk at me again and started talking loudly and waving his hand in front of my laptop screen. I turned the volume up on my iPod. He touched my arm. I told him not to touch me again. He subsided for a bit.

Then he started fussing with the chair opposite his table. He positioned it so that it filled the space between his table and mine, and then put his legs on it, which had the effect of boxing me in between my table and his legs. I gave up on waiting for him to GO AWAY and left by shoving my table out from the wall so I could sidle past it. I sat down at a different table, because some spot of pride in me felt that, well, I'm not bothering anyone and I shouldn't have to be the one to leave. Also, it was sprinkling outside and I was hoping for a break in the weather before I left.

Creepy Guy remained a few minutes at the same table. Brave Barista approached him again, presumably to say "QUIT IT." Creepy Guy followed me to new table, tried to talk to me, touched my arm again, which got me to say "Don't touch me" again without me ever taking my earbuds out or hearing anything being said. Brave Barista had More Words for him, then went back to work.

A minute or two after that, Creepy Guy finally left.

After Creepy Guy left, Brave Barista came back to my table. "I want to apologize for that man -- "

"Oh bless you for finally driving him off," I told him.

"Yes, well, I'm afraid he's been around a lot lately and bothering the customers. We'd called the cops, and I was actually trying to stall him until they arrived so that he could be banned." Brave Barista gave me a little Starbucks gift card and apologized again.

I did a little writing. Maybe twenty minutes later, Creepy Guy returned to the Starbucks, but he didn't approach me. He talked to some other patrons and bought a sandwich. Brave Barista, whose name proved to be Dan, kept an eye on him.

I'd been tweeting about this whole episode as it unfolded, and I started to tweet "Why can't I meet weird strangers who are funny at the coffee shop, like Ursula Vernon does, instead of weird Creepy Ranting Guy?"

And then I stopped, and thought about some of Ursula Vernon's tales of interacting with strangers. Some of them are genuinely merely bizarre, and some are just funny. (There is really no way to relate the star-crossed love of a rooster and a turkey without it being funny.) But most of them are funny as much because of the way she tells it as because of what happened, and some of them are pretty awful once you take them out of the context of "Ursula Vernon boggling humorously at how is this actually happening to/around her." If I'd listened to what Creepy Guy had said, and if I'd had her gift for humor, I might have been able to showcase his rantings as "weird and funny" too, instead of "ZOMG WHEN WILL THE COPS FINALLY GET HERE".

So I commented on that fact instead. Ursula replied with, "Yes, but that's my coping mechanism for creepy things, so it's okay! We all have different coping mechanisms!"

Creepy Guy did come back to sit next to my table again. I don't know what he said, because I turned up the music as soon as he returned. He reeked of alcohol now.

Not long after, two cops actually showed up and bracketed Creepy Guy while he was sitting two feet away from me. I paused my music to listen as they took his name -- somewhat dubious on whether or not he was telling the truth about his name -- and told him he was banned from the Starbucks, and he'd better not already be banned from the plaza because if he was they were going to take him in. They escorted him out of the shop.

I would call this a victory for my "Ignore Them Until They Go Away" method, except that I had to leave myself ten minutes later, to dodge the anticipated storm.

But the thing that stuck with me from the whole incident was that realization about how the line between "funny" and "distressing" is in significant part based on your attitude and the way you tell the story. It also made me realize that I cope with awkward/uncomfortable/creepy by trying to ignore it and carry on with the thing I wanted to do. It's the same coping mechanism I developed in grade school to deal with bullies. In fact, Creepy Guy had NOTHING on the kids who harassed me in junior high. He wouldn't even be in the running. By childhood standards, this barely even qualified as an attempt at harassment. Twelve year-old me would be so jealous that this is the most obnoxious stranger I've dealt with this decade. SO JEALOUS.

I don't know how to tell this story so that it's funny, but I am thinking about that now. I don't think I have the right temperament to treat this kind of awkward/unpleasant situation with a sense of humor (never mind having the comedic gift to make it actually funny). Still, it's an interesting thought.
rowyn: (huggy)
I'm headed off to Seattle today! I'll be in the area from today through Tuesday morning. If you're in the region and would like to get together, send me a note! I'm going to be seeing [livejournal.com profile] terrycloth and [livejournal.com profile] alinsa. We'll be going to a Devin Townsend Project concert on Friday night, but other than that, the schedule is fairly flexible.
rowyn: (Me 2012)
Health/Fitness
My weight had crept up to 180 lbs, and I finally decided that I should Do Something About This.

My new plan is simply "eat slightly less". I started on September 20 by tracking food & exercise, and have been averaging a net negative of 250 calories. That works out to around half a pound a week. My ideal weight is probably somewhere in the 110-135* range, so it's gonna be a few years before I get back there. That's fine. I'm not trying to get in shape for the beach season or something; I'm trying to return to a healthier weight that will not cause me the long-term joint problems that run in my family.

This plan includes "eat when I'm hungry", which both means "do not eat to alleviate boredom and stress" and also "do not suffer in order to lose weight". I had a snack last night that put me over my calorie count for the day, for the first time since I started tracking, because I didn't want to go to bed hungry. Good call, me. So far, I do not feel like I am suffering on this plan, and that makes me a lot more likely to stick with it.

My scale now says I'm 177 pounds. My spreadsheet (I'm tracking on a spreadsheet because it's actually easier than using an app, sadly) says I should be not quite up to losing my first pound. I am curious to see how my projected vs actual weight loss goes. The first few pounds always seem to be the easiest.

* My lowest weight as an adult is something like 117 lbs. At that time, I thought "I look fine and it wouldn't hurt to lose a few more pounds". Honestly, I don't feel particularly fat even now. My desire to lose weight is mostly "I have a lot of pretty clothes I would like to fit in again" coupled with "and also gaining 5-10 pounds a year is not a healthy trend". One of my friends told me a few years ago "You are SMOKIN' HOT" and this is the self-image that has stuck with me. ♥

Writing
21,800 on The Sun Etherium for September. That was pretty much all my writing this month. I feel simultaneously as if this is Not Enough and also that I am being ridiculous and that's fine.

My 2016 YTD word counts by novel:

Birthright: 78,000
The Moon Etherium: 124.000
The Sun Etherium: 23,800

That's over 225,000 words and there's still three months left in the year. Brain, please chill out.

The Business of Writing
I published The Moon Etherium! *kermitflail* *collapse*

Art/Other
I did four different cover variants for The Moon Etherium, and a handful of sketches.

Socializing
I went to ProgPower with [livejournal.com profile] alinsa! Wow, it seems so long ago I almost forgot that was in September.

Goals for coming month
[livejournal.com profile] alinsa and I plan to serialize The Moon Etherium, which means Alinsa has to worry about getting Wordpress set up again (I hope it's easier this time) and I have to figure out illustrations. There will be eighty installments of the serial. I am not drawing eighty pictures for it. But I do like having images to go with the posts. So I will go through the eighty parts and see if I can figure out some broad shared categories and come up with abstract illustrations along the lines of each category. Goal is 8-10 different illos. I will figure out what each will be before I do any of 'em. We'll see how that goes.

So I'm not really sure what my goal is for October. Probably one or more of the following:

  • Write more of The Sun Etherium

  • Illustrations for The Moon Etherium/begin serial

  • Edit The Warlock, the Hare and the Dragon


I don't particularly plan to finish any of those in October, and I may not start all of them. I'll find out in November what I did!
rowyn: (studious)
Writing
I set a goal for July's Camp Nano of 20,000 words, and beat it handily, with 26,700 words on Birthright. \o/

The Business of Writing
After meeting my Camp Nano goal and taking a month off from The Moon Etherium, I went back to finish up the edits. It's now in [livejournal.com profile] alinsa's hands for layout. We're shooting for a late September/early October release

Art/Other
I painted the cover for The Moon Etherium. I am pretty sure I did some other doodles and sketches, but I'm writing this on my phone and don't feel like looking it up. To be honest, "I painted a cover" is a lot of art for me for one month anyway.

Life
Since I returned from my vacation near the end of June, the following things have happened:

* My air conditioner died during a weekend of 95+ temperatures and I had to call for emergency repairs.
* I had a tooth extracted
* Half the ceiling in my den collapsed and no contractor wanted to touch it because the job was "too small" to be worth their time
* After two weeks and contacting six different contractors, I called a friend who used to work in construction. He agreed to do it.
* Lut and I moved everything in the den out of the den. Our computers and the reclining loveseat we use in front of them is currently set up in living room. The set up is basically functional. I have to clamber over the couch to get to my side, the light switch is hard enough to reach that we just leave it on, and the front door has gone from "hard to use" to "what front door?"
* While trying to move the loveseat, I strained a muscle in my back.
* While attempting to repair the hole, we discovered that the rest of the ceiling was also unstable.
* My friends pulled the entire ceiling down.

It's now halfway through August. I have a ceiling in the den again! It is aaaalmost finished: it needs one more coat of paint.

Then we can move everything back into it oh heaven help me. x_x

Anyway, what I'm saying here is HOLY COW I CAN'T BELIEVE I GOT SO MUCH DONE THIS MONTH WITH ALL THAT GOING ON.

I mean, I keep thinking "ugh work on this book is going so slowly compared to The Moon Etherium" but. Still. I wrote almost a thousand words a day and that's not counting the 15-20 hours I spent on editing TME. Or the cover, which took another 15 hours or so. Girl. You are not slacking. Quit it.

Goals for coming month

I ... think I'm going to finish the first draft of Birthright? I've written, I don't know, another 14,000 words or so thus far this month. I think I have four-six scenes left. Even if that balloons out (and my scene count skill has vastly improved since I started joking about it last year), and even with WorldCon and an anticipated Zero Productivity Zone for the next five days, I don't think this is gonna take more than ten days to finish.

And then I will have a first draft of Birthright.

O.o

Granted, it needs ALL THE EDITING and it's pretty broken in places. And the book that preceeds it also needs lot of editing so the two work together better. But. Still. This is the book I have started and quit writing a half dozen times in the last decade. The prospect of having a finished draft, no matter how messy, is weird. Attractive! But weird.

These last few scenes aren't gonna write themselves, though. Back to the word mines!
rowyn: (studious)
I will be at WorldCon this year! As I've mentioned a couple of times before, and probably should've mentioned again before the day it starts. Oops.

I'm on two panels:

Love And Trophies: Friday evening 7-8PM
Austen and Shelley: Sunday afternoon 1:2PM

Other than that, I'll be wandering around doing usual con things, starting this evening. (I will not be staying late into the night at the con tonight or tomorrow, but might be on Friday and/or Saturday)  If you'll be there and would like to meet up with me, you can message me here or on Twitter -- I'll have my phone with me and will check in regularly, I'm sure (I get notifications on it and am as likely to see them as phone calls or texts.)

Hope to see some of you there!
rowyn: (sledgehammer)
So, since my ceiling collapsed, I've contacted six different contractors.  I have thus far gotten exactly zero estimates. Response has been:

  • Two contractors who called me on 7/7 and said they would call back to make an appointment. Never heard from them again.

  • Two contractors that I left messages for and never heard from.

  • One contractor that made an appointment, showed up on time, told Lut how he'd recommend fixing it, and did not give Lut a price. He said he would write up an estimate for me and send it.  That was a week ago. Never heard from him again.

And then there's Crestwood Painting, whom I'm going to call out because I am especially unimpressed by them.  On Thursday morning, 7/7, I used their web form to make an appointment.

Yesterday, I got a confirmation email from them that they would be out, to remind me to be home for the appointment at 1:30PM.

Today, three hours before the appointment, I got an emai saying "oh, your job is too small for us. We're cancelling the appointment."

Because at no point in the last 11 days could anyone look at my message and see what my request said.  Bear in mind that they didn't get any new information from me: they are responding to my original request for an appointment.

Also, PRO TIP: do not have your system send reminder for appointments you're not going to keep. >_<

In the meantime: I have no freakin' idea how to get my ceiling fixed, since "contacting firms that say they do ceiling repair" is obviously not the way.

I'm gonna try my friend who used to work in construction.  Maybe he can tell me. Oh, I could try calling my insurance agent, too.  (I have a high deductible so I doubt insurance will pay for anything, but perhaps they'll know people who don't just say they do repairs but, y'know, ACTUALLY DO THEM.)

Right now, Terry's suggestion of "just never look up" is looking better all the time.

Weekend

Jul. 10th, 2016 09:50 pm
rowyn: (Me 2012)
This weekend I:

  • Ran three loads of laundry

  • Put away two of them (the last one is towels and can wait in the dryer until the next time I happen to go downstairs).

  • Put anti-flea powder on the carpeted stairs to the basement and vacuumed them. My indoor cat has fleas.  WHY. I got the anti-flea stuff from the vet for the back of her neck 6 weeks ago and have given her two treatments so far, but the fleas Will Not Stop.  I am keeping them in check by flea-combing her daily and vacuuming the whole house every day or two, and have sprayed several times. But the basement stairs are attached to the area where I keep the litterboxes, so I hadn't done them. When I did laundry I realized the steps were flea-ridden.  UGH.

  • Scheduled an appointment with a contractor to get an estimate for replacing the fallen ceiling section.

  • Started and mostly finished a cover painting for The Moon Etherium.

  • Watched Disc 1 of SyFy's "The Expanse".

  • Went out to eat on Saturday

  • Wrote a hundred words of Birthright

It's that last one that's making me feel like I did nothing at all this weekend. Spending ten hours on a painting doesn't count for my brain. Stoppit, brain.  Just stop.

It's not that late on a Sunday but I kinda want to just go to bed.

Anyway: no new disasters so far this weekend! \o/ So there's that. 
rowyn: (studious)
Health/Fitness
I was not totally idle while I was visiting friends (Sophrani and [livejournal.com profile] kagetsume) and my parents for a week, because my father goes for a two-mile walk every morning and I went with him.

Still, lots of rich restaurant food and less exercise than usual, so a mediocre month for that. Also, my bike broke at the end of the month. -_-

Writing
I put together about half of an outline for The Sun Etherium while I was visiting my parents. I was not happy with what I had so far and didn't feel like it was gelling, though. So I put it aside and hauled out  Birthright again towards the end of June, and wrote perhaps 4000 words of it.

I had a good conversation with [livejournal.com profile] alinsa about the problems I had with the climax of Birthright, where she gave me some enormously useful ideas. \o/ I may actually finish the draft this time! (Let's not talk about the edits. *shudder*)

The Business of Writing
I contacted two different artists about doing the cover for The Moon Etherium. Both asked for more details about it. Neither got back to me after I provided details, not even to say "No, thank you". In other news, trying to hire an artist is every bit as awful as I expected it to be. -_- Hey, [livejournal.com profile] okojosan, I don't suppose you want to do a fantasy/romance book cover?

I wish I could mock up a cover image that I liked even as much as I like the cover for RA, but no luck so far. I will probably try another professional or two, then give up after they also ignore me and use one I do myself. v_v

I did a lot more editing on The Moon Etherium while I was in North Carolina and before. I need to do a final read-through and there are a few more changes I might make. I decided to let the book lie for a while before that. Maybe a month. We'll see if I make it that long.

Art/Other
Not a lot. A couple of pencil sketches that I liked, a few color doodles that I didn't, another cover mock-up for The Moon Etherium.

Gaming
My mother addicted me to Spider Solitaire (it's more interesting than regular solitaire, I promise).

I plaed some Hold 'Em poker with my father's poker group, which was fun. ♥

Socializing
I spent a week in North Carolina visiting friends & family!

Happiness
My vacation was surprisingly relaxing. Usually I come back from vacations feeling like I need another vacation, but this one was mellow and I had lots of time to myself to rest and play with electronics. And edit my book. It was good.

Home has not been so good, what with everything falling apart. -_-

Goals for coming month
I decided to do Camp NaNo and set my goal at 20,000 words on Birthright. I'm at 9500 now, so that's going fine. Also, I am back to counting words, since I did that with The Moon Etherium and it worked great and even came out at estimated length.

In other news, I now consider a thousand words a day to be a modest, easily-achieved goal. Kind of "minimum effort if I want to consider myself to be trying at all". So that's a thing.

Depending on how writing Birthright goes, I may or may not get back to The Moon Etherium for my penultimate editing pass. We'll see.

Coda

Jul. 6th, 2016 08:46 am
rowyn: (downcast)
The man who put my lunchbag on the bus told me that he saw someone else looking through it, and didn't know if anything had been taken. "That's all right," I told him. "There's nothing of value in it but these." I waggled my leashed keys. "Which are only valuable to me."

This morning, I checked the top pocket of it, where I sometimes keep $20 for emergencies. I'd thought it was empty because I'd spent it without replacing it. But no, there was $20 still in it. Apparently, whoever went through it was only looking for identifying info. ♥

*

I called Rick at the bike shop at 4PM yesterday. "I forgot to mention, but the back tire had fallen off the wheel when I tried to change it and discovered the broken axle (or broke it). Will you check and make sure the tire and/or tube is okay?"

"It's holding air fine," he assured me. "Been inflated for two hours, no problems."

He repeated this when I picked it up 90 minutes later.

This morning when I got it out of the garage: completely flat.

*

I kind of feel like the universe is telling me, "Quit dreaming about retirement, quit living in fantasy worlds, and just PAY ATTENTION to the real one. Like a real adult."

I don't know. I've been trying to keep a positive attitude but it's wearing on me. v_v
rowyn: (worried)
On Saturday or Sunday, Lut commented, "Is it just me, or is that crack in the ceiling getting bigger?"

I looked up. A crack ran much of the length of the ceiling over Lut's side of the den. "I don't know. I don't remember it." I didn't think too much about it: cracks happen sometimes. House shifts or whatever.

Tuesday night, as I sat at my computer and my cat, Kali, sat beside me in Lut's seat, I heard distant fireworks. Guess some people aren't done with the fourth yet, I thought. I felt bad for my cat. Then there was a sound like hail. My cat looked up, glanced at the window, and the hail intensified. Kali bolted from the room, as is her wont whenever strange noises are coming from the sky. She's sure it's going to fall on her.

Then a six foot by three foot section of the ceiling collapsed over Lut's seat.

...

OK then.



It rained down in chunks of plaster and sheet rock. We have about 8 garbage bags partially full of the stuff now. "Partially full" because it is heavy. I'd guess that section of ceiling was 150-200 lbs of stuff.

My cat's lifetime of paranoia about the sky falling on her? NOW TOTALLY JUSTIFIED. If Lut or I had been sitting under it, we'd never have gotten out of the way in time. Kali: NO PROBLEM. She was out of the room and probably halfway down the stairs before the first chunk fell.

We have it mostly cleaned up now, though bits of dust are still settling from the ceiling boards. No signs of water damage. According to the internet, apparently ceilings just spontaneously collapse some times.

D:

I will keep an eye out for other cracks. There aren't any in the rest of the house. I checked.



I leave you with a small section of the kind of wreckage that covered half of the room. All the electronics seemed to have survived, so that's good.

So.

Anyone know a good plasterer?
rowyn: (exercise)
Today was the day I tried to fix my gaffes from the weekend.

I called Enterprise this morning: they had found my phone, but I'd have to pick it up: they wouldn't drop it off for me. Rats.

My second thought was to rent a car for an hour, have Enterprise pick me up, then take the car to get my bike, drop off the car, and bike home. But Enterprise does not rent cars by the hour, and the one-day fee seemed excessive to my needs. Blah. My new plan became "take bus to the bike shop, then bike the 2.5 miles to rental car place, then bike the 3.6 miles home". This is a short ride by my standards: my usual after-work ride is around 10 miles.

I brought my backup phone to work, hoping I could write on it, but its keyboard is in terrible shape, with many keys often unresponsive. I wrote a few hundred words using the virtual keyboard, but it was just too painful to do any real work on.

I left work at 4PM, so I'd have some slack if I missed the connecting bus. The best possible time was 38 minutes, but I took an hour instead. I was ridiculously anxious through the bus trip. Not having my phone and not being able to confirm things on the fly with the net made me nervous. When I finally got off the second bus, I got half a block away before realizing I didn't have my lunch bag. I hurried back to the bus and made the driver wait while I tried to retrieve it. The bus was full of helpful people trying to soothe the crazy lady who didn't understand how buses worked and lost stuff. One nice woman who'd been sitting next to me at the bus stop exclaimed: "Oh no! Was that black bag yours? You left it on the bench at the last stop."

Oh. Well, kind of a shame she didn't ask me about it at the stop, but hey, at least I knew where I'd left it now. I thanked her sincerely and let the poor bus escape me at last. My lunch bag had nothing of value in it except for the key to the bank and the key fob, which would probably be expensive and annoying to replace if I didn't recover it. :/

I got my bike from the shop, and a new helmet because I'd forgotten mine and I was supposed to replace it anyway, and Rick threw in a bungee cord so I could tie down my purse, because I hadn't brought the bike basket along when I gave him the bike.

Then I set off for the rental car shop!

Within a mile, I already felt kind of unwell and nauseated, surprisingly so. It was a hot day, 95 or so, but I often bike in that kind of heat and it's never been a problem unless I've gone for several miles without shade. But I made it to the rental car shop without incident, collected my phone, and set off to Wal-Mart to see if my bag would still be where I left it at the stop. Even with going back to the bus stop, the whole trip would still only be 7-8 miles: again, shorter than I usually do.

I started to feel faint as I biked up a long gentle slope a half-mile or so shy of Wal-Mart. Maybe I should catch the bus at the Wal-Mart stop, and skip the last 2-3 mile ride to home, I thought.

In the last blocks before the bus stop, I started talking to G-d, which is a thing I do now and then and don't usually write about. I'm not entirely sure why I don't write about it. Because it's navel-gazey? Because I'm not properly religious? Because don't want to inflict the disquieting experience of listening to other people talk about their take on religion on my friends? These are pretty good reasons. But I will write about this bit anyway, because it amused me.

"So, hey G-d," I said, out loud because I don't care if passing cars think I'm a crazy person. "It's been a long time, and I have no right whatsoever to ask a favor of you because this entire situation is my fault and the result of me not paying enough attention to what I'm doing and the things I'm supposed to take care of. But I would still really appreciate it if my lunch bag would be where I left it. And if not, that's okay too. It only costs money, and that's what money is for." I gave a little sigh. "It seems I've been saying a lot of that lately. Anyway, that's enough about me. How are you? Work going all right?"

I don't think G-d talks to me any more than he talks to everyone else in the world, which is to say "all of the time but usually we don't understand and even when we think we're listening, we've got a good chance of getting it wrong." I didn't hear an answer, but I started grinning anyway, with this sense of G-d spreading his arms: "Hey, I've got the best job in the world!"

I laughed. "You're only saying that to cheer me up. You've got a terrible job. People are always asking You for stuff." And then I smiled more, because it didn't work. I couldn't picture G-d moping. "Okay, fine. God's job is great." I laughed. "And yes, the cheering-me-up part is totally working."

I arrived at the bus stop. My bag was not on the bench where I'd been sitting. A man standing nearby said to me, "Are you looking for your bag? I put it on the bus." He pointed to a bus waiting to leave. I marveled at my timing, hopped on, retrieved my bag, and thanked the nice man.

At this point, I should've loaded my bike on the bus's bike rack and taken the bus home, but I thought I was feeling up to biking the last few miles. This was ... true in the sense that I did in fact bike the last few miles to home, and false in the sense that I had to stop three times to rest because I was worried I was going to fall off my bicycle No idea why this ride was so grueling. Ugh.

But I made it, and I have all my possessions back, and I'm feeling back to normal. And feeling grateful to all the people who are watching out for me when I'm not. ♥

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