shuffling the archives

After twenty-three years, my personal file organization is finally starting to break down.


Since 2001, I’ve used this method: all my art lives in ~/gfx/working, in folders named with the year, with a lot of aliases in there to help me quickly access large projects that may span across more than one year. All the stuff in the top has a space at the beginning of its name, so it sorts at the front.

And then there’s the yearly directories, which now stretch way past the bottom of my screen on the laptop. Quickly finding work from the last year or two now involves scrolling a good ways down here, and that’s kind of annoying – I want the old stuff to be way in the back of the virtual closet, not the new stuff.

Sorting z-a might fix this, but OSX MacOS doesn’t let me do that in column views. Hmmm.Well, here’s an idea:

A folder full of aliases, organized by prefixing them with Greek letters. Conveniently I have exactly as many old yearly folders as there are letters in the Greek alphabet; English letters and numbers sort above them, so I have twenty-six years of continuing this scheme through English letters before it starts to break down, plus about, oh, another decade or so of “I just have a few un-renamed aliases in alphabetic order before the older stuff and it’s not a real hassle”, which means I can keep adding a new alias to this folder once a year until I’m somewhere in my late eighties. I think that’s enough, if Future Me is still in a situation where she can dextrously manipulate a stylus connected to a functioning computer, then she can spend ten minutes thinking of a new way to do this.

Actually now that I put myself in Future Me’s sandals for a second… what if I organized them by decade? Nah. Leave it to Future Me, I don’t need to try to refine this right now.

In the shower, I came up with this, and thought it might be useful, too. “I know I did that thing when I was living in Boston..”

The lower New Orleans folder is mostly a placeholder for if I ever take up Lewis’ offer to try and see what’s on the VHS tape he has that purports to be a backup of my Amiga circa 1997. I never got around to transferring stuff off the actual computer in the time between when I quit using it in 1999 and when it was destroyed in Katrina.

If you’re reading this post when it’s a year or two old, leave a comment and find out if one of these schemes is still working, or if I’ve come up with something else!

The Breakup Bees: A Relationship Technology

Some time ago, Nick and I went to Archie McPhee and got the usual sort of stuff one gets there: tiny plastic lizards, pens shaped and scented like strips of bacon, action figures based on famous philosophers, etc. Goofy novelty stuff. Cheap, silly trinkets.

I don’t remember everything we got on this particular trip, but one purchase ended up being unexpectedly life-changing. One handful’s worth of bee finger puppets, their injection-molded faces set in eternal, happy smiles.

As we wandered around Seattle on that sunny summer day, we made a decision: Any attempt at a breakup must be performed via these bee puppets. Why? Mostly because it sounded funny at the time. Condemning our future selves to the punishment of having to waggle finger puppets at each other when they were angry was an absurd image.

The bees ended up on my bookshelf after that. Sitting in a line in front of books. In sight, but out of conscious thought. When we left Seattle for New Orleans, they came along; not long after I had bookshelves, the breakup bees were hanging out on one shelf again. The magic books this time. Which seems appropriate because they kind of turned into a little bit of relationship magic; it turns out that they work pretty damn well at defusing a lot of the tension that’s been built up by whatever’s driving one of us to threaten the other with the Breakup Bees.

We now have this way to unambiguously say, this thing you are doing is going to ruin this relationship if nothing changes. And that’s valuable. And it’s also a really silly way. We’re waving a bright yellow smiling finger puppet at each other to do it; while things can remain surprisingly tense for a bit, the bee still brings a powerful note of comedy to the whole affair, even before we get to the point of expressing our displeasure in the high-pitched buzzy voice appropriate to speaking through the puppet.

And we have a way to measure our displeasure. There’s five of them; obviously all five only come out for a serious, full “we are breaking up right now” moment.  There’s a big jump from no bees to one bee, but there’s also a good way from one bee to five. So far we have never had to deploy more than one bee at a time. I really can’t imagine what it would take for us to have two or three out, let alone the whole five.

We have expressed the seriousness of our desires for each other to change some behavior as “one bee’s worth”. I have been lectured on doing an unpleasant financial matter I was avoiding through the medium of a plastic bee breakdancing and singing a song. If something’s stressing one of us out while the other’s gone, we can take a bee and leave it in each others’ work areas, with the option of putting it back on the shelf before it’s seen. This impulsive joke has turned out to be surprisingly effective.

They don’t have to be bees – find something that works for your sense of humor and your significant others’ – but I heartily recommend this as a way to keep your relationship healthy. 3-10 absurdly cheerful-looking tokens of we need to talk.

a fresh coat of paint

According to my file dates and names, I built this version of my website in 2011. Visually, it remained pretty much unchanged – I built a few new styles for the various comics, but largely I just changed it by writing new blog posts and uploading pictures and comic pages.

Today, I found myself suddenly compelled to sit at some picnic tables under a highway overpass in City Park (this is much nicer than it sounds, trust me) and work on a new front page image.

I chose to keep it similar to the old one:

…but holy crap it’s a lot more detailed and fluid. And it probably took less time to do, too. The new one took about an hour and a half, plus some more time digging up my old CSS toolchain and changing the rest of the website’s colors to match. (Hooray for CSS pre-processors.) I’ve got no idea how long the old one took, but I have a vague memory of struggling with that under-chin angle on the face. This time I just knocked it out quickly, and came back for one brief touch-up near the end; I think I mostly spent my time fooling around with more detailed takes on the caduceus, and deciding how frilly to make the big swath of hair. Also this one, like, kind of actually looks like me, if you ignore the fact that I sure as hell do not have that kind of ass, damn. If only.

I guess I’ve changed elemental associations from Fire to Air or something? I have no idea what that will mean for the future. Maybe I’ll be back here in another decade or so with a new take on this.

Anyway. If you wanna see it in its full glory then go visit the front page of my site.

so um yeah

we were stonedly discussing some stuff about parallax

then the subject drifted

and suddenly nick was proposing marriage

and it was mostly for legal reasons, we are pretty much married in all but name at this point but

holy shit did that conjure up some feelings

because “marriage” has a lot of shit tangled up in it

then we went back to talking about parallax but yeah i guess this is the day i got a marriage proposal and said yes

we are so not getting married anywhere near valentine’s day holy shit no


so, new years eve party. pretty good. things done:

  • kissed an otter after he stonedly declaimed his willingness to be my tool for refining raw chaos into power
  • talked to a fox (i think?) who had, like, actual moments in Rita she had *memories* about
  • publicly warned some folks that there is a magic spell at the end of the printed copies of Rita and told them its general intent (you wanna know? ask me at a party when I’m stoned enough to let the Magician speak)
  • sent a perfectly terrible wish to a genie
  • buried my face in a tiger’s tits
  • then the ex and i left at ten because we are old people  who can only take so much social at any one time, especially when baked off our asses

and now food, and probably stoned snuggling in the bedroom some time after that

many thanks to the folks at the blazewing eyrie who hosted the party, it was wonderful as always ???????

A fragment of memory

So. Let me tell you about a little sore tooth in my mind. A fragment of memory that just doesn’t fit with the narrative of the rest of my life as I remember it. Every now and then it bubbles up and I wonder what the hell was happening; the other day I went for a long walk through the park and… poked at it.

The scene: upstairs in a sunny house in New Orleans. Probably summer. Probably next to Bayou St. John. Probably around 1986-88.

There are two children sitting there listening to a man, dutifully taking notes. One of them is a skinny boy with black hair, who would eventually grow up to be me. One of them is a girl. Was she someone I knew in school? I don’t know. I don’t even have a solid memory of her ethnicity, let alone her name. The guy is white. I want to say he’s slim and possibly balding. I don’t have a solid memory of that either.

My brain says this is somehow related to Future Problem Solving, which was a thing I did in high school. Which is where I get the 1986 guess from.

But the content of what this man is telling me and this girl doesn’t seem to match with any kind of preparation for this very rational exercise in Creative Sci-Fi Thinking. Because I am being told a bunch of New Age sounding stuff about… well, that’s misty too. I mostly recall being shown diagrams. Concentric circles. Rounded off teardrops. A general sense of the text being about the Shape of Reality. Mystical stuff. In a relatively new book.

Something vaguely like this? I dunno. There were labels.

I dutifully took notes on a yellow legal pad. I don’t know if I copied any of the diagrams. Or wrote down the name of this book.

I don’t know where those notes went.

I don’t remember talking to this man ever again. Or anything else along these lines.

I have a memory of wondering what the hell this new age bullshit had to do with anything but this might actually be a memory of remembering this later on and wondering just that.

I’m pretty sure my mother was there. As was the other kid’s mother. I don’t know if she was listening to all this. I don’t remember talking with her about it later. And I can’t ask her about this any more; I’d have to perform a seance for that.

I can’t recall any more details. And to be honest I would be suspicious of the truth of any more details I managed to dredge up; I’ve read enough about how easy it is to get people to remember things that never happened.

It feels weird. It feels like something that tugging on hard enough could be the start of a paranoid conspiracy novel set in the eighties, with children being recruited and programmed into… well, pick your own narrative here, really. Indigo Children becoming soldiers in a secret psychic war or whatever.

My memory of most of my teenage years is a tapestry of holes. I’ve always just assumed it’s due to the depression I fell into after my father died; when every day is grey and sad despite the blazing New Orleans sun, it’s easy to disassociate and just… forget. But pulling this out into the light suggests an alternate story of… something. Something secret and buried and hidden from me.

Part of me is reluctant to talk about this publicly. What if there is some kind of Secret Society involved? What if They see this and decide it’s finally time to activate my programming or whatever? What if I really am in a Phillip K Dick novel instead of the sensible mundane life I’ve always thought I had? Maybe you’ve only ever heard of me because this was a test that I failed, so I was left to make my own way through the normal world instead of being a character in a real-life version of Psychonauts. Or the X-Men I guess but I’d rather imagine the goofy cartoon version.

I wish I could remember anything about the title of that book with the diagrams. Anything to ask Google about. But I can’t.

It might just be a dream I had. I’m pretty sure the time I walked into my parents’ bedroom at night when I was five and saw a glittering crystal cavern hidden behind their dresser was a dream, for instance. But this feels like a thing that really happened.

Welcome to the hole in my head. I don’t know how deep it goes. I don’t know if I want to find out.

Goals 2017

A post on Hacker News about “aligning your daily to-dos with your long term goals” made me decide to sit down and ask myself what my long term goals are right now. This is what I came up with.

I need to think about Drowning City more. There are some large questions about it being asked here. Absinthe and Parallax have pretty concrete things to do, but there’s something ambiguous I have to grope for in that story before I can push forwards on it. Or maybe I just need to stop putting it off and make myself draw panels in my chapter 1 roughs for a week to get some progress.

Enchant is the dance studio I’ve been going to for the past couple of years. I took a break this winter with the intent of finding Something Else to keep fit with and have just been slouching.

There should maybe be some political action goals but uggggghhh

I’ve got a trip coming up next month that may be partially on a friend’s couch or may not. I need to try planning for the latter in case the former falls through.

I guess the overall long term goal is “keep doing this art thing, get back to where it almost pays the bills like it did when you were cranking out Rita”.



I hadn’t intended to go to FC. I hadn’t gotten a table. Hadn’t negotiated for a room with anyone. But there I was, going down to the airport, with a con ticket and room share I’d set up maybe a month before on impulse. “What the hell am I gonna do without a table to give my con structure?”, I wondered.

The day before I’d been doodling some Parallax stuff, and had found a loose, storyboard-like look that I was considering doing it in as a comic while spending most of my energy on Absinthe and Drowning City. And somewhere on the way to the airport it hit me: one of my younger comics friends had been muttering about how she really missed working on her own comic, but did not have certain mental prerequisites for that at all right now, what with the political situation and her own situation. What if? What if I did quick Parallax page layouts and scripts with Nick, and had her finish them? What if I paid a few different people to do this, put them online for free, then set up a Patreon for the project?

I fired off a message to her, and started pondering who else I’d make this offer to.

On the plane, the Magic Sketchbook passed the “can I do comics in an airplane seat” test with flying colors. I’ve got one more panel of Absinthe drawn than I did last week, and I’m pretty happy about that.

Got to the con, hooked up with my roommates, dumped my stuff, had food, hit the Thursday evening dance, went to sleep. Somewhere in there I looked through the schedule and picked a few panels I’d maybe want to hit up. That’s what people do when they’re not at a table, right? Panels? Sounds okay, I guess?

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adulting is weird

For a long time I’ve been theoretically polygamous, but not actively – ever since I broke up with Rik and Nick, I’ve really just been sleeping with Nick. But recently I’ve started having naked funtime with another friend. I now have both an ex-with-benefits and a friend-with-benefits, and which is a lot of benefits for someone who used to think she would never have any kind of relationship!

Not too long after realizing this, I asked two questions: when’s the last time you got tested for STDs, and what’s the state of your marriage.

The first one is pretty obvious basic courtesy, really. If you’re gonna sleep around, keep yourself clean, you know? One of us should have probably asked it before we’d had our heads crammed between each others’ legs, but, well, these things happen.

The other one… I felt super adult for asking that. Because I’ve been in a position where I was flirting with someone who turned out to be in the middle of their main relationship getting wobbly. And the last thing I want is for “having fun in bed with a friend” to turn into “arguably being a component in a friend’s relationship failing” – I haven’t actually been that, but I’ve backed off from things that looked that way. That’s just totally the opposite of having a good time.

(For what it’s worth: their answers to both questions were fine by me. And so were theirs.)

Anyway. Happy New Year.

Birthdays and other lies

Well. That was a pretty good birthday. I sent off the signed contracts to print Rita, and went to the bank and wired off half the money. Now I just need to double check that the PDFs are the right sizes and send those off to the printer. I could have done that today, but instead I got together with the ex-with-benefits, went out to a cafe and worked on a short comic I've been fooling with, then went to a couple of places that have really nice cake and split a slice of it at each place.

I mean it was a good birthday aside from the fact that a literal neo-Nazi conference shouted “Heil Trump” today, and we got news headlines like “Alt-Right Leader Questions Whether Jews Are People”. Ugggghhh, what the fuck has gone wrong in this country, how do we fix it, I've been worrying about that a lot but today I just had some fucking cake.

And, well, aside from the fact that it's not anywhere near the date on my birth certificate…

A month and a half ago, a few people I follow on Facebook had birthdays at the same time. My feed there was full of reminders of this and messages other people wrote on their pages to wish them a happy birthday.

And I cringed inwardly, and went to make sure Facebook wasn't going to do that on my birthday. Because that's also the anniversary of the day my father died. Yeah, on my birthday. You couldn't do that to even the most miserable and beleaguered protagonist of a Roald Dahl tribute novel; it's just too perfectly horrid, isn't it? A day of cake and presents turned to a day of shock and horror at a sudden lack of a loving parent. Unsurprisingly my birthday celebrations have become rather minimal, to the point of barely existing at all – it's an excuse to maybe buy a couple big things I've been sitting on the desire for, and to have a nice meal with the ex-with-benefits, at most.

And then I wasn't sure if Facebook was going to do this or not despite me marking my birthday as hidden there. And I had a stoned idea: what if I replaced my birthday there with the creation date of the Furrymuck character whose name I ended up taking as mine, when I transitioned? Yes. I've had that date in my calendar for a while, so it was a simple matter to dig that up and put it in there. And to start trying to think of other social media that might have my birthday up, and change it there too. And put a post-it with the new date on the monitor so I'll hopefully remember to put it in the next time I create an account somewhere.

I originally wrote this the night I decided to do this, and scheduled it for the day after my new birthday. I wondered if by the time this comes up I'll have decided if I want to try to start using this as “my birthday” in social situations, tell people I'm a Scorpio when they ask my sign, and stop making jokes about the holiday near my actual birthday, or mention a few people I feel honored to share my birthday with. I think the answer is “yes”. Now I share it with Dr. John and Björk, not [redacted promoter], [redacted cartoonist], and [redacted cartoonist]. It'd be pretty cool if I can manage to get Wikipedia to have this date in it, should I become wiki-notable: I doubt anyone will bother researching the day beyond “what it says on her social media” unless someone reading it remembers this post and decides to doxx me to find it out. (Hi, future reader thinking of doing just that. Drop me a line and tell me why you want to do this, and maybe I'll just tell you. Oh wait I think you can find that out via public posts on this very blog, oh well.)

Maybe I'll even start to feel happy to get birthday wishes again now. That'd be nice. I could use a burst of happiness in the middle of winter. I kinda liked the pile of them I got this morning.

And: if you're seeing this after letting a machine urge you to wish me a happy birthday? Seriously, thanks for the birthday wishes. Please don't feel like a jerk for not knowing that my birthday is really another day, even if you've known me for years; I'm honestly not sure I'd know what my mother and father's birthdays were if they weren't both on holidays, never mind knowing the birthday of any of my friends.