Reflection: Hurricane Irma

Florida was just trounced by Hurricane Irma. She meandered, dragging predictions along with her, but the sheer size of the storm meant impacts for the entire state, regardless of where the eye of the storm ended up.

We live in the center of the state, nearish the panhandle, and about half-way between east and west coast in the peninsula. To see where we are, I took this screen capture of a map of Florida. I apologize if the state lines are a little obscured. Irma photobombed the image.

Screen capture of Gainesville Florida from Sunday, 9/10 at 1:33 pm, depicting large swaths of rain and potential tornado impact areas across the entire peninsula of Florida, and into Georgia

Screen capture of Gainesville on Sunday, 9/10, as Irma rode up the state

Typically when hurricanes come across Florida, the most we get in Gainesville are tropical storm winds. Because of the size of Irma, and the fact that the path in earlier predictions had her riding up the center of the state, we were preparing for worse. We got word on Thursday evening that our Governor was calling for all schools K-12, college and university, to be closed Friday through Monday. As the storm slowed down, it was extended through Tuesday (today). Tomorrow we go back to work at the University of Florida, though classes don’t resume until Thursday.

-Water, food, cat food, medicines all stocked up - Boarded front windows (we have a large bay window next to a 70 gallon fish tank, and some trees we are worried about) - All the laundry done - Photos of everything taken, loaded to the cloud - Cat carriers assembled - Cars gassed up - Generator moved to be easily accessible, gas for generator secured - Cash on hand - Devices charged, and portable chargers charged - Cat medical history and microchip numbers secured from vet - Phone numbers written down in case we lose access to our phones - Everything outside secured/ brought in. - Move car closer to house - Eat down remaining perishable food stores - Pre make some dry goods that we can eat cold (pasta, rice, etc) - Fill tub for toilet flushing in case we lose water - Disconnect computers and move near door (away from windows and the tree-line, ready to snag if we leave - Move remaining hurricane supplies (crank radio, candles, camp kettle) out of bottom of pantry for more convenient access

Our hurricane prep checklist for Irma.

One thing I have always said, and still believe, is that I would prefer hurricanes to other natural disasters (tornados, earthquakes, wildfires) because at least with a hurricane, you know it’s coming. Well, you have a pretty good idea that it is headed your way. Irma is the latest example that you can never actually know what the final path of the storm will be until it is done.

So we prepared the best we could, which was, in my opinion, pretty damn thorough given our location in the state. What they don’t tell you about hurricanes, however, is how boring the lead-up to them can be.

Once everything is bought, and you hunker down, knowing the winds and rain are coming but no sure when, knowing you’re going to lose power, but not when or for how long, all you can do is wait. Well, that and check Facebook obsessively to get updates from others who are hunkering down, and the storm path, and what impacts have been felt already. Of course I had entertainment prepped for when the power went out (writing letters, reading books, critiquing stories I’d saved on my tablet). But dang it if I wasn’t going to save those for the power going out. So Saturday I bought and watched the 10th season of Doctor Who on Amazon Prime, because I still had power, and wasn’t going to waste that entertainment that I would need once the power went out.

Picked up most of the down branches for pickupThing is, the storm came through our area mostly on Sunday night/ Monday morning. My hubby tells me the power went out a couple of times in the night, and the winds were bad. There were sounds like transformers popping, and branches falling, and I slept through the night. Monday it was still raining, a bit, then in late morning it switched to winds, with gusts up to 50 mph, but lessening to 24 mph guts as evening came on. We lost power for a full 30 minutes around 1pm, but I was settling for a nap, and missed that, too.

As the winds died down, we called and texted and messaged friends and family to see how they fared. We are fortunate – the worst we had among our group was power out for a day, and one couple who had two trees down – one from the neighbor’s yard that fell, missing their house, and stopping above their fence; the other clipped the shed in the back yard, but again, no damage to the house.

And so we pick up the small branches that fell in our yard, eat more of the pre-made food, offer our house for those still without power / hot water for showers, and take a breath before we go back to the reports and see what this Hurricane Jose is about.

Picture of intact house with blue sky, and yard waste at curb

Most of the branches Irma tossed around waiting for pickup

Lies Depression Tells Me, 6 – activism

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts. Hell, it’s been a while (6 months) since I made any post. I’ve felt pretty good and balanced, just with no desire to create – my writing has fallen by the wayside, as has blogging and other creative ventures. I’ve also noticed my efforts to hang out with my friends have fall off. I’ve been content to read, watch shows on Netflix, and occasionally invite folks to my house for board game days.

Oh and getting upset and pissed off and generally feeling hopeless at things posted on Facebook. Because so far this year has sucked – politically, with shit going down that is dragging us backwards in terms of the environment, health care, international standing, rights for LGBTQ+, women, muslims, brown and black individuals (particularly in case of police overreacting to situations with these folks) – basically it feels like anyone who isn’t a wealthy , cis-het, able-bodied, white, christian, gun-owning male has reason to fear getting overlooked by the government at best, or at worst screwed over or killed.

And if feels like it is happening all because those in charge want to tear down anything done by our previous president, a black man.

Me in a pink pussy hat in front of the capital building at the Women’s March on Washington this past January.

I’m pissed, I’m discouraged, I’m disheartened, and I feel impotent. I marched in Washington in January. I went with some really awesome women who have continued to meet, and have made regular calls to our representatives and senators, and have joined local activist groups (though some may have been part of them prior). Women who have basically kept working to make a difference. Me? I worry, and sometimes I repost things on Facebook.

Trying to unpack why I’m not more involved like the folks I know, I’m coming to a few realizations:

  1. I assume that my voice is inconsequential – that nothing I do will really make a difference
  2. I don’t try to spend energy looking for things I can do, because I fear on some level that pursing those kinds of activist, out-spoken activities will have a negative impact on my mental health
  3. (the most sobering) – I’m pretty well off, despite the shit-storm of things going on. I’m a cis-het, able-bodied, middle-class white woman. Yes I have mental health concerns, yes I have folks int the LGBTQ+ community I am really concerned about, yes I am in that unfortunate state of checking the female box, but overall, personally, I’m not really impacted by what is going on. I am weathering this storm pretty well, so I let points 1 and 2 rule the day. And I am disappointed and sickened by myself for that. And yet.

The post is a “Lies Depression Tells Me,” and I know that part of the reason I sit in my complacency is because of the depression. Or, in the very least, I can blame it on the depression, and fear of it.

And it sucks, and I’m not proud, and I feel like I want to change, but the fear of making my mental health tip back to the unbalanced side is holding me back. And then I look at my lack of desire to do anything but the light fluffy consumeristic activities I’ve been doing, and can’t help but wonder if I’m just hiding because it’s easier, or if my depression has gotten sneakier about impacting my life, since I’ve built up defenses against it’s other messaging.

And I can’t help but wonder if the voice telling me that my efforts won’t make a difference anyway and that if I act, and that acting would impact my mental health for the worse are just my depression being tricksy. Because depression it like that – and it doesn’t always look like what you expect, but it always lies to you about what you are capable of, and I am f’n sick and tired of it, already.

 

Reflecting in 2017

 

I started last year by completing “Unravel your 2016.” While I didn’t stick to everything, I found the exercise useful, so over the  winter break I completed the “Unravel your Year 2017″ workbook from Susannah Conway. I even managed to complete it before the end of 2016.

Center word Reflect, surrounded by believe/trust/faith, (re)create, release and connect -seen on a daily random generator of simple tasks

I created the word cloud out of index cards to help keep the word(s) fresh in my mind. The Daily Random Generator are small things I can do that help fulfill my goals.

Along with reflecting on the previous year, the workbook takes you through exercises to consider the year ahead along several different axes, as well as finding a word to act as a guide for your upcoming year. As I sat by the koi pond at my in-laws house, I contemplated what word would be meaningful. I was having difficulty selecting, having narrowed it down to reflect and (re)create. I ultimately chose reflect, because for the challenges I’ve faced, and the self-improvements I hope to make, this word means different things.

I was surprised that the next page had me select 4 extra words to support my word of the year. I was skeptical, but tossed (re)create in the first spot. I added a second word, and all of a sudden something clicked, and my heart felt a bit lighter. I considered a bit before adding my third and forth words, and had a sense of contentment I was missing from selecting a single word to encompass the year.

There are many areas encompassed by this collection of words that where I am seeking self-improvement. As a way to not feel overwhelmed by everything that was crowding my mind that I wanted to accomplish, I decided to make a “The Least I Could Do Daily Random Generator.” The list is made of small tasks (I aimed for things that could be completed in 15-30 minutes) that contributed to my goals, and to the values that the words encompassed for me. My current list is 25 items. I roll 2 d10 each morning, and take my number from there. So far I have completed my tasks for just over half the days, but because they are so small, and because they change everyday, I’m happy with how it is working.

1 Blog Post
2 Read a Short Story
3  Meditate
4  Color Something
5  Connect with someone via electronic means
6  Write a letter or card
7  Call political office (senator, representative)
8  Stretch session
9  Write fiction
10 Phone a friend
11 Plan a meal
12 Go through files / things
13 Read from to-read online list
14 Put things away
15 Walk somewhere new
16 Exercise set (20 min)
17 Take photos
18 Tai Chi
19 Puzzle/ word puzzle/ logic/ sudoku – etc
20 Romantic act
21 Random act of kindness
22 10 ideas in 10 minutes
23  1 letter of address book (or 10 entries), whichever is less
24 Watch a TED talk
25 Listen to writing podcast

There are a few other things I’ve done in prep for the new year. One is small tasks I’m trying to complete everyday (with an understanding that doing all of them is probably unsustainable, but I’ll see what sticks) – 15 minutes of cleaning / tidying before bed; adding one moment of happiness into my mason jar; keeping track of spending on a daily budget.

I could go on with my plans, because even 2 weeks in I am still feeling hopeful and motivated about the year. Instead I will end with a visual -another piece of the Unravel Your Year workbook – a visual map of my upcoming year.  I hope you are making the most of your new year.

Image of small icons, including a boat, a giraffe, red hair, the number 40, the word "reflect", multi-sided gaming dice, a stack of games, a notepad and pen, and a book and glasses

A visual representation of things I anticipate happening in 2017.

 

2016 in Review

Every year has its ups and downs, its achievements and its misses. Given this past election season, and the anxiety I harbor about the year ahead, I thought I would take a moment to remind myself of all the awesome in my life in 2016.

Concerts & Shows

This year I attended more concerts and shows than I have in any year of my life

  • March 30th – Attended Ask Me Another show/ recording in Orlando with Karen
  • May 5th – The Play that Goes Wrong – with Toby
  • May 6th – Lush concert – The Roundhouse – with Toby
  • June 3rd – Weird Al Yankovic Mandatory Fun World Tour – with Toby, Ron, Dave, Tessa, Zachary and Leo
  • July 7th – Welcome to Nightvale show Ghost Stories, Tampa – with G.W.
  • December 2 – Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain – University Auditorium, UF – Allyson, Nick, Lila, Kendra, Carlos, Allison
  • December 11 – A Night with Amanda Palmer, Jason Webley, and Jherek Bischoff – Culture Room, Fort Lauderdale – With Toby and Ron

Travel

Places I went – Some for work, some for fun.

  • Hattiesburg, MS- IRDay (April)
  • London, Paris – Concert and vacation (May)
  • Orlando, FL  – ALA Annual conference (June), FL- Scholarly Communications Interest Group conference (June), visit friends (Various)
  • Alaskan Cruise with Melson family (July)
    • Seattle
    • Juneau
    • Skagway
    • Glacier Bay
    • Ketchikan
    • Victoria, BC
  • Indianapolis, IN – GenCon (August)
  • Columbus, Ohio – USETDA conference (September
  • Bok Tower Gardens, FL – day trip on Homecoming holiday (October)

Books Read

Over on Goodreads, I set up a challenge for myself to read 40 books. I met my goal, and you can see Goodreads’ summary here. It’s a very pretty visual. There are some books I feel are worth highlighting:

Learn and Grow

  • Attended Mindfulness Retreat weekend in January
  • Attended two Writing The Other masterclasses, transcribed a third
    • Writing Native American Characters: How Not to Do a Rowling!
    • Writing Deaf and Blind Characters
    • Writing for Trans and Non-Binary Narratives
  • Read from a banned book at ALA for Banned Books Week series videos
  • Walked with PFLAG in Pride Parade
  • Attended UF Quest conference
  • Became board member of PFLAG
  • Attended PFLAG Transgender symposium

Celebrations and Connections

  • Treated myself to a spa day in January for my birthday
  • Visited friends who live in England when they were in Orlando
  • Attended Toby’s godson’s HS graduation party
  • Attended Bobby and Lee Kirby’s wedding
  • Attended Stephani and Vince’s wedding
  • Attended Birthday lunch with Tempest
  • Went with Allison to get her tattoo
  • Went to the 30th anniversary showing of Labyrinth in theaters for Karen’s birthday
  • Went with sib to start the legal name change process for them
  • Hosted Thanksgiving for my family
  • Visited Toby’s family for Christmas

Random Tidbits

  • Attended the UF home Gymnastics season
  • Attended several UF home Football games
  • Started office hours as IR Manager – Fall term
  • Early Voted
  • Got rid of a lot of paper in my office – scanned a bunch then recycled
  • Created shelf / necklace holder
  • Created art for Amanda Palmer, gave it to her, and got a kiss on the cheek in return

Live at 1:45 12/31; I’ll come back later and add photos.

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