Not the question I was asking, dude.

Why, when asking for advice on something… say, “are these apples any good?” is the first answer some people go to something along the lines of “if you’ve bought bad apples in the past that’s on you, and the question you should really be asking is Why Haven’t You Tried Oranges”.

The other day I posted in a group I’m in on Facebook, a group full of artists and makers and crafters, all centered around the fact that we all use the same inventory/accounting system. Foolishly, I thought I was in a safe space to ask a question.

I told them that for the third time in a year, my work debit card had been hacked, and I asked them if they used any online-only banking that was secure and what made them happy or unhappy about it. I’m thinking about changing my work account from my local credit union to something else, but I wanted input from other people who may use those same things. People like me, people who make things for a living and maybe don’t have a lot of extra dosh just sitting around for people to steal. I wanted opinions on banks from people like myself.

And what I got, out of three responses to my question of do you use an online-only bank and what is your experience… was one recommendation from another woman about an online bank called Chime, and two dudes who suggested I use secure and different passwords, and another dude who chimed in on someone else’s comment about what I was doing wrong, and suggested I use PayPal because that’s what it’s for.

OK. Where do I start with this? Because I was really torn between saying “I am not a child and I have been on the Internet longer than one day, I do know a thing or two about passwords” and “oh, you big strong man, you, thank you so much for telling me about this thing called “password hygiene” and suggesting that mine is poor, I had never thought about using more than one password before, you’re so smart and I’m sure your penis is gigantic” and “Yes, and? Do you have any input as to the question I asked?”

Hashtag, not all men, but definitely those f’cking dudes.

I asked a simple question. Tell me about your online banking experience and if you would recommend your bank.

I got victim-blamed for having my debit card number stolen in the first place, and lectured about not using the same password in more than one place.

People make me tired.

Did you get the number of that bus?

For about the last week, I feel like I’ve been gently hit by a bus. Not really full-on smashed into, but more like… clipped, and knocked out into traffic, where another bus hit me and sent me reeling over that way, where another bus…. get the idea? I’ve just been spinning around in traffic.

First we thought That Poor Man’s only vehicle, Truckenstein (yes, like Frankenstein, but put together with random truck parts) had a broken axle. That was last Monday. We drove it back into Gainesville that night, me following him and holding his truck on the road with the power of my mind (I told him that if I was following him and his tired flew off and he wound up in a ditch that I would Lose My Mind… but everything was fine). Ate dinner in town. Came back out here.

Tuesday… or was it Monday? I opened the kiln from a weekend firing and a few things didn’t look great. No big deal, I could just slap another coat of glaze on them and… wait a second, what’s this error code on the Autofire screen? TC2? …. research… research… Oh, great. Big Geek seems to have burned out or through a thermocouple, whatever happens to those things. Well, I can’t afford any big kiln repairs right now, so I guess I’m firing all these decal pieces in Little Geek… two pieces at a time… oh this will make me insane… Turns out a new thermocouple is only about $30, instead of the $500 or so I was thinking (if I only need a new thermocouple and not a whole new auto-controller, but if I take the error code at face value then all is well). So. Order new piece. Also, my friends Denise and Tarrant came over to bring me coffee and a little something they picked up for me at Disney… the Sanaa board and tin bowls for the bread service there! Aaaaahhhh! This by far was the best thing that happened all week! (And don’t worry, you two, as soon as Tim rounds up a few more ingredients we will have you over for delicious, delicious naan and sauces!)

Wednesday was the 4th of July, and as much as I love me some fireworks, our dogs do not. So we don’t usually go anywhere but instead opt for sitting and home with the girls and pretending that everything is normal. I fired a mug and a yarn bowl in the small kiln.

Thursday I was still without a car, so that That Poor Man could use mine – which meant I was also calling for package pickup only NOT on Wednesday because that was a postal holiday, and if there’s one thing that messes me up it’s mid-week holidays! By the end of the day we still had not heard from the car place, but it’s the same guy we’ve been using for about 20 years so we’re not worried – he’s always got lines of cars to work on because he’s just that good. I fired another mug and another yarn bowl in the small kiln. I also finally – FINALLY – finished glazing and detail painting the tester of a mug that a friend asked me to make way the heck back in October.

Friday I fired Little Geek for the third day in a row. Friday we finally heard back from Billy about Truckenstein… something that they had just replaced a few weeks ago when working on the breaks had sheared off, and it was under warranty, so everything was being replaced – no charge – and we could pick it up later that day. Just to make things easy on ourselves we decided to go into town on Saturday, instead. Tim still drove out there and went to Sams while he was on that end of town, and came back with this great new-to-me coconut-flavored water by Bai that I’ve been getting addicted to. Friday I also got a notification that my thermocouple had shipped.

Saturday we went into town, had lunch at Chopstix, and went out to get Tim’s car. We both then ran separate errands around Gainesville and got home at about the same time. On one hand I got no work done that day… on the other hand I did start the small kiln firing once more, before we left, so at least that was accomplished.

Sunday Tim went into work (he’s been crazy busy at work and has worked at least one day every weekend since about January) and I started to do my regular Sunday work of getting orders ready from the weekend and plotting out social media and maybe pre-writing a few blog posts, and… no Internet. This may surprise you but it’s hard to do things online with no Internet connection. Now, we have satellite internet, and it goes out sometimes in heavy cloud-cover. And our Internet comes with a data cap. So my first two thoughts were that maybe we’d hit our data cap one too many times and they cut us off (on a Sunday, though?) or that maybe it was too overcast. We’ve had it go out in heavy thunderstorms before, but never more than an hour. This went on and on all day. I started using my phone as a hot-spot and using my cell phone data to access the Internet so I could change out some photos and answer email and put some social media up. By the end of the day….? Still no internet. Oh, and hey, you know what’s really fun to do? Try to print from your computer, that’s hooked up to your phone, to your wireless printer, that is not only NOT hooked up to your phone and in fact refuses to even see that there’s a new wireless network available. You will have to go dig through many boxes of random cables to find one that you’re pretty sure is not related to your printer AT ALL but it fits and now maybe your computer will talk to the printer using this old fashioned cord thing. Yep. Super fun. Hashtag, first world problems.

Monday. Yesterday? What is today? Monday I had my car and Tim had his truck and all would have been great with the world… if we’d had Internet. At this point I started to think that maybe it wasn’t the cloud cover. The day before I had turned everything off and turned it back on again… Monday I did that again. Multiple times. Longer periods of being “off” each time. Nothing. No joy. I also drove up to Starke to get bloodwork done for a kidney doctor appointment I have next week… they have a lab at the hospital there and it’s mostly just walk-in… except you have to go to the other end of the hospital to check in first at the ER clinic. Then you come back and get a number. The two people in front of me hadn’t taken numbers, so I did the OCD/rule-follower thing and asked them which of them got there first, gave out numbers, and took a seat. About twenty minutes later (I’m glad I had my knitting) they finally took the first person. Then the second person. Then they noticed at the check-in for the FOURTH person that she was fasting, so they went ahead and took her. Then they called the fifth person and I was like, “HOLD UP.” Then they got flustered at me for saying something, which I do NOT understand — if you don’t want people to call bullshit, then have something besides handwritten numbers on green laminated paper hung from a nail in the wall! What kind of hole-in-the-wall hospital is this?! Gah. Anyway. The vampires took their vials of blood and I came back home and tried to remember what I needed to be doing (everything) that I wouldn’t need the internet for (not much). I finally gave up and went back over to the house and did dishes. I *did* call my Internet provider and got an appointment for a tech to come out (after answering multiple times that yes, I had turned it off and turned it back on again FOR CRYING OUT LOUD I DID NOT JUST FALL OFF A TURNIP TRUCK I KNOW HOW TO UNPLUG AND REBOOT). Anyway.

So this morning… no Internet. Oh! Which also meant no Babylon 5….! Amazon Prime has been streaming it and a few friends and I get virtually together online four days a week, in the morning, and watch an episode and make a Facebook thread where we comment on it. So I’ve been missing that, too, with no Internet. OH YEAH AND IT’S HARD TO WORK. (Sorry. I get very HULK SMASH when things just suddenly up and stop working for no discernible reason.) The tech had a window of 8 AM – 11 AM … which, yes, does mean that he called at 10:30 to say it would be more like noon. Whatever, dude. I have laundry I can fold. (HAHAHAHAHA as if I really did that.) Anyway, he came out, asked me if I’d turned it off and turned it back on again, unplugged the modem and wireless router, plugged in a new combo modem/router, AND IT DIDN’T WORK. Sigh. So he sat around for about an hour, trying various things, plugging this one thing in and unplugging another, or plugging all these things in together, or plugging this thing into that thing, and finally – FINALLY – he got a working signal. Which is good because the next step was to climb up on the roof and beat up the satellite dish, and I was not looking forward to that because I am not a big fan of heights.

So now, at this moment… I have my car. I have my thermocouple (it came in the mail today). Tomorrow I will install it in Big Geek, and thank Little Geek for all the work it’s been doing this week (four back-to-back firings, plus another firing today of some test tiles). I have my internet. I will be able to watch Babylon 5 with my friends tomorrow morning and I spent the afternoon updating some things on my website and then writing this blog post. I am now going to sneak out of work five minutes early – don’t tell my boss – and I’m going to go over to the house and have a beer and look for some cookies and then go play outside with the dogs.

Tomorrow is another day!



Maybe your comfort zone isn’t holding you back; maybe it’s your place of power

Lately I’ve been on a rant (I know, when am I not, right?) about those memes that go around… I know you’ve seen them… they all say something along the lines of “here’s you” (small dot on the page) and “here’s all the good stuff that happens way the hell over where you aren’t” (big circle on the other side of the page). They imply that you are in a comfort zone, and everything magical and good that could possibly happen is out of your loser reach because you’re too set in your ways to reach for the good stuff. That you can’t grow unless you leave your comfort zone. That all the good stuff happens outside of your comfort zone. That you can’t possibly grow and change and TRULY LIVE unless you are out of your comfort zone; great things never come from it; nothing ever grows there.

I call bullshit.

There is a big difference between a RUT and a COMFORT ZONE. Do you know how hard it is for some people to reach a comfort zone? Do you know how many uncomfortable, hard things some people have had to do to make themselves a comfort zone? People who have cut negative people – toxic friends and family – out of their lives, to have a comfort zone? People who have left bad jobs, painful relationships, moved to foreign countries… to be able to carve out a comfort zone for themselves? And yet here’s meme culture saying “that’s not enough”. Makes me want to punch meme culture in the throat.

Did you work hard for your comfort zone? Is your comfort zone something you fought for? Something you paid for in blood, sweat, and tears? Do you have the battle scars from cutting someone toxic out of your life? Did you have sleepless nights from a job that always wanted more from you, no matter how much you gave it? Do you have a past you don’t like to talk about, or a present you thought you’d never get? Then don’t give a second thought to people who tell you your comfort zone is a place of stagnation. You worked damn hard for that place of comfort. That place of comfort is a place to firmly plant your feet and stand tall. That comfort zone is the calm eye in the center of the storm of life. Your comfort zone is your retreat, your place to recharge your batteries and fortify yourself.

And you deserve that. You deserve a calm space in which you can firmly plant your feet, grow your roots and become strong enough to reach for things. Living life in an UN-comfortable zone is unfortunately common – how many of us are almost always uncomfortable where we are, in our own skin? We’re taught from an early age that the grass is always greener somewhere else and that we’re nobody if we’re not reaching for MORE. But what often makes us more brave? More able to face fears? More able to relax? Comfort. A place where we can spread out and not be judged and be ourselves. From that zone we can relax, recuperate, reconstruct ourselves, begin knowing and strengthening our selves.

Your comfort zone isn’t a rut, isn’t a chain holding you back. Your comfort zone is your place of power.