Shoes :/

I ordered new shoes a couple days ago, they should be arriving tomorrow. Buying shoes is one of the most frustrating things I have to do regularly, and I usually put it off until my shoes are literally falling to shreds.

Here are the things that suck about shoe buying:

Virtually all shoes are gendered. Even the sizing system is bifurcated into men's and women's sizes, for fucking no reason. Buying shoes usually requires me to misgender myself.

Shoes online vary massively in price by size and color, so if I find a pair I really like for $20, I might discover that the 10.5 size versions are $60.

I don't want to buy leather clothes, and most of the shoes I can find are made partly or entirely of leather. The major exception to this is sneakers.

Most sneakers have massive, gross brand logos plastered across the side, which makes me super uncomfortable.

Usually by the time I get to something that could theoretically work, after all this, I don't want to buy it out of spite. So that's why I've been wearing shoes that have had three-inch separations between the soles and the tops since January.

Phone call from my therapist

I had my last meeting with my therapist of the last six years. 

It turns out, I actually had my last meeting with her a couple months ago. I have a billing issue that I procrastinated on addressing, and in the meantime she must have gotten another job somewhere because she's leaving the practice through which I saw her. By the time I set up a payment plan, and could technically schedule appointments again, it was just a few days before her last day. It was also a weekend. She couldn't fit me in, obviously.

However, she did give me a call, at about six tonight, so presumably the last thing she did before leaving. On today, her last day. She checked in, asked how I was doing, and I got to say thank you, and goodbye. I cried a little bit after, and I'm crying a little bit right now. 

I know very little about her, in terms of her life, and I'm not going to list her name or anything, but she has been, easily, one of the most important people in my life. 

Therapy is hard, and mental illness is hard, and I am immensely, unendingly grateful for the fact that people dedicate their lives to helping people like me cope, recover, and grow.

Fixed my home wifi

Do you ever learn how to do something that, after you've figured it out, instead of being happy with the result you're just annoyed about how long it took before you googled it successfully?

So, WiFi apparently broadcasts on one of 11 different channels. When you have a lot of routers broadcasting on the same channel, it can produce interference -- so if, for example, as was the case in my neighborhood, your router is broadcasting two signals on channel 6, and several neighbors' wifi reaches the house and is on channel 6, your wifi is going to be crap unless you're literally sitting next to the router -- as was the case in my house.

Because apparently Comcast's "Automatic" setting for channel selection actually means "Set goddamn everything to 6."

Today we went from a state of several years: not being able to get a solid connection twenty yards away from the router, to a new state: to having full strength signal everywhere in the house, and the only thing I can manage to feel about it is irritation that I didn't figure out how to do this sooner.

My vertigo, a summary

Tomorrow I'm seeing a doctor -- a GP -- for the first time in, like, two years. It'll be the first time I've seen a doctor since my vertigo started -- this was something I meant to do right at the start of the summer.

I want to take a moment to gather my thoughts, on what exactly it is I'm going in to talk about, since it hasn't happened in a while.

I have, to varying degrees, constant tinnitus in my left ear, usually accompanied by some amount of hearing loss. The ringing and hearing loss seems to be worsened when I spend a lot of time around persistent loud noises. 

Sometimes, the issue escalates, first to pressure, then to vertigo: room-spinning dizziness. When that happens, I get very sick, and usually need to throw up. Moving becomes extremely difficult. I usually stagger to the bathroom as soon as I realize it's getting bad, and I stay there for the whole night.

During winter break last year, I had vertigo almost every night. Prior to that, I'd had it frequently during the summer. For those reasons, I thought that it was environmental: that it had to do with the room I was staying in at home. We got a carbon monoxide detector, which came up zero.

I had a bout of vertigo during my last week on campus at Hampshire this year, when I was experiencing a lot of anxiety, and not taking very good care of myself. For that reason, my leading theory now is that the escalation is triggered by a combination of psychosomatic responses and poor self-care, especially moving very little, not eating or drinking, and taking my medications at an irregular schedule.

Last winter, I used an earwax removal kit, which decreased the severity of the attacks. Starting in the last week of school, I've been taking meclizine, a motion sickness medication that works by interrupting balance signals from the ear to the brain. This seems to work consistently. I now always keep some in my pill case, and I take one whenever I feel the slightest bit like I might be getting vertigo. (Meclizine takes an hour to kick in, and I don't want to risk needing to drive or something during an episode of vertigo.)

Because of that, I don't know whether I would be having episodes this summer without the meclizine. But several factors are different: I'm no longer staying in that room downstairs; I have a job for the summer, which gets me out of the house at least every other day; the most severe stressor at home, my older brother, no longer lives here; I've been eating and drinking much more regularly.

The tinnitus and varying partial deafness have been a problem over the course of the summer, rising to the level of non-trivial inconvenience.

I've brought up my issues with my ear in a few medical contexts: The last time I had a medical checkup, the doctor flushed a huge amount of earwax out of my ear. At school, I saw the campus nurse practitioner, who examined my ears, and said, oddly, that the left one seemed fine but the right one (the one I've never had a problem with, at all, ever) appears to have either ruptured or been operated upon at some point in the past. I've also talked about it with my psychiatrist, discussing the possibility that this could be a side-effect from one or more of my several medications. In particular: Zoloft withdrawal or irregularity has caused dizziness for me before, but it's a different kind of dizziness. I don't know whether that's related.

TL;DR: My ear's fucked up, hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to get a little bit of answers.

Short day, long day

Today was my first whole day off since Readercon. I woke up at noon, spent the next three hours in bed drinking water and eating mealsquares while playing a stupid fucking app I downloaded a few days ago called "Best Fiends," took a shower, went back to bed, then went downstairs to catch up on my bullet journal, which I haven't been using since last Wednesday. 

As soon as I got stuff down on that list, I started getting stuff done, because that's what's so great about lists -- all of a sudden the mental energy I was using to hold a list of things in my head to worry about was free, and I could spend it doing those things. 

Still more than half of the list is to-be-done. For example, there's a game I'm doing graphic design for that I'm like two weeks behind on. And I need to clean my bedroom, it's super depressing right now.

Today wasn't the  work-packed day I wanted it to be, but I feel like I've at least got the wheels back on the cart and I'm moving again.

Sub-dissociative qualities

There's nowhere I want to be right now. I'm downstairs in my house, upstairs I feel penned in, downstairs I'm hanging out with my little brother. I'm blogging on my phone to put off making a decision.

Time felt so compressed two days ago, now it's stretching and straining and peeling apart so that every minute feels like a cobweb I have to wade through just to make it as far as the wake tomorrow.

On the other hand, I feel confident I'll get very little done. Time spent well goes quickly and I don't expect to have that quality of time available to me in great quantities.

There's no need to be up early tomorrow.  I think I'll stay up very late, get things done that way.

Scary Toast

I just jumped, and audibly gasped, at a toaster popping up -- while I was doing literally nothing other than standing in the kitchen, looking at it, waiting for my toast to finish toasting. That was when I realized that I'm having a severe anxiety episode today.

It's a bit of a relief, to be honest. I've been feeling off all day, and it's good to know that it's not a symptom of an oncoming physical illness -- just the mashup of daily discomfort, grief, the knowledge that my younger brother will be living at home all next week, and putting out the new episode of Solarpunk Press and getting ready for Readercon -- the latter two of which are things I'm thrilled about, but knowing that I have to do these difficult things, which I want to go really, really well, amidst an atmosphere of hightened stress, is really fucking with me.

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Risking the integrity of my head

I'm dying my hair right now -- a practice that has had, in the past, drastically irregular results.

The thing is, my hair is naturally an almost-black shade of brown. The color I'm going for is white. So, I need to bleach it to an incredibly pale yellow before it actually works. I've succeeded once, and failed at least twice. 

Today, I'm starting from the position of the lightest hair I've had in a while, I'm trying T-18 white dye, and I'm using level 40 developer. I'm planning to leave it in for an hour but if the burning hurts too much before then I might jump in the shower early.

For reference: the dye recommends level 20 developer, for a half hour. According to the internet, you should only ever use level 40 developer if you're a professional, in a salon. So a plausible worst-case scenario here is that I get to try out the bald look.

Also, I have to go to work an hour and a half after I'll have finished. So, there'll be just about enough time for me to learn how shaving a head works, unless the burning baldness is surprisingly even and clean.

Will post pix later. 

Readercon anticipation, anxiety, and plans

It's 4 p.m. on Monday. I have work in an hour. I woke up an hour ago. And I'm preoccupied by the question, "Do I really know enough about bees?"

I think it's probably too soon to make definite statements about what panels I'm on at Readercon, because the whole schedule isn't out yet, but from the back-end it looks like they've assigned Thursday and Sunday? And anyway, one of the panels I think I'm most likely on is Thursday's "Bees!"

My original plan when it came to my panels was to come prepared with plenty of links and research, keep track of what I mention during the panel and what other people bring up, and post panel summaries with links afterwards. At this point, I'm beginning to feel like it might be a good idea to write coherent posts and publish them in advance, because that may be a much better way to marshal my thoughts into a form I can be confident will make a bit of sense when expressed to a crowd of strangers and acquaintances. 

In case you're wondering: yes, I've been checking the panel sign-up page about every three hours since I first filled it out.

My bullet journal

I got around to decorating my bullet journal yesterday, which I wanted to do before showing it off. 

It's a Kokuyo Campus Wide notebook, which I picked because:

  • it's hardcover, so I can use it comfortably when I don't have a writing surface on-hand,
  • it's double-ring bound, so I can fold it over on itself to save desk space,
  • the paper can support fountain pen ink without bleeding or feathering,
  • it's got enough sheets to last a reasonably long time.

I also wanted to have a dot-line ruled notebook, but I couldn't find any that also met the above criteria. 

bad day

I wanted to get a lot done today. I anticipated having a very productive day -- there were phone calls, errands, work to get done, decisions to make. 

I just never managed to not be exhausted, though. All the way through me, today I was barely awake enough to think. I've dragged myself up to a little bit of functionality -- got some of those phone calls made, refilled some meds that were going to run out tomorrow, and I still plan on getting some things done before I pass out completely.

But altogether, today felt bad. I'm bummed out about that.


I've been using Clip Paint Studio Pro, a photoshop-like program that's built with art as its primary intention, rather than an adaptation made by users. It's got a lot of features that Photoshop doesn't, and one I've been really excited about is the reflection ruler, which allows you to set any number of reflections.

Radial patterns are so much fun! With this one I made the central image, then I duplicated it to tile the image, then I made some adjustments to a few spots, for variety.

Extraneous seats

The chair that got delayed, that the company emailed me about and that I subsequently cancelled without complication, showed up.

It's in a box downstairs and I don't know what to do with it. I should probably return it? That's going to be a pain in the ass, though. I don't have space for it, I can't really use it since I got a different chair. (The point of the chair was that it was easy to put out of the way.)

This chair thing is causing me problems. Furnishing shouldn't be this hard.

Seat achieved

My chair arrived! My back hurts a little bit sitting on it, since the desk is a little bit lower than I thought it was, so I've been a bit hunched over. But I feel way better than I've been feeling laying on my bed all day. It also fits perfectly under the desk, which is great because I have very little free space in this room.

I'll probably have real blog posts on Monday.

Return of the Chair

So that stool I ordered last week? The original supplier had a stock problem, so they cancelled my order. Yesterday, I placed a new order to replace that one, for a virtually identical stool. It should be arriving tomorrow.

It's very difficult to write while laying in bed. My hands just don't want to rest correctly on the keyboard if I'm laying down, and if I sit up, it takes like 4 minutes before my back starts hurting horribly.

But downstairs is an impossible space for work -- pretty much for the singular reason that children in their first digit of years are loud as hell and never stop running around.

I can't wait until my stool shows up. I'm so excited to get to use my desk.

Started work

Today was my first training day at my summer job. (I was going to write "Today was my first work day of the summer," but my body still hurts from my actual first work day of the summer.) It's at the food service at an amusement park. 

Orientations are weird. My employer's social media policy probably prohibits me from saying anything else.

Update on the bedroom (mainly about a stool)

The organization project for my new bedroom is going pretty well. Today I turned an old tacklebox into a massive collection of assorted-tiny-things and turned the bookshelf next to my bed into a queue for papers to process once I have my desk clear.

I'm using my desk as temporary storage, which is the best use for it until next week, when the stool I ordered on Amazon shows up. I'm excited for that stool -- it's just a plain wooden stool, that's pretty comfortable-looking, is high off the ground and doesn't have a back.

I tend to disagree with most people about the best possible kind of chair. It seems really weird to me, but most people just seem to always want fluffy, comfortable chairs they can sink into.

To me, those kinds of chairs are useless, when I want to get anything done. For a desk chair -- especially one that's going to be in the same place where I also sleep -- I want it to be stiff and unsupportive enough that if I fall asleep on it I'll fall off and hurt myself.

Plus, this stool will fit entirely under the desk when I'm not using it, which will be awesome because there's nearly less than zero free space in this room and having a chair at my desk would make it difficult-to-impossible to comfortably walk from the door to the closet.

Feedly: basically Google Reader

So I've finally gotten around to putting together a replacement for Google Reader, which was shut down three years ago. I'm using Feedly, and it's great: I've only got like six publications in it, but I'm already way more on top of news that I care about than I've been in a couple years.

Particularly, I'm thrilled to have an easy way to read EurekAlert again. Even just scanning the headlines, it's like suddenly I have a clue again what's going on in contemporary science.

Vertigo (the medical condition, not the movie)

So, my vertigo is coming back.

Last summer, and again last winter while I was home on break, I suffered from repeated, severe bouts of vertigo, getting to the point where it was almost every night. 

Monday, I had one of those bouts again. I spent 5 and a half hours in the bathroom, mostly sleeping on the floor because I couldn't stand up.

One of my modmates got me a box of meclizine, a motion sickness medicine, which was recommended to me last time I talked to a health professional about this. I think it's working. I took some that night, and I took some last night. I woke up with vertigo this morning, and took some, and it didn't keep escalating. 

Unfortunately, it takes about an hour to kick in, and only lasts about 8 hours. I've already gone through the whole first pack, which came with 8 pills, or 4 doses. 

I really need to see an ear specialist medical practitioner when I get back home.