money, personal, psychology, self care, work

Saying "no"? (TW: mention of sexual assault)

Yes, yes…it’s Thanksgiving. I am at home with the heater on, in bed, with the computer. I could have gone to a family gathering, but seeing that actually eating there is gambling with my gastric health (I’ve gotten sick from eating extended family’s cooking more times than I can count), I’ve decided not to go.

Well, there’s that — plus the fact that they try to force me to eat — plus the fact that those gatherings are bizarre due to the people invited and/or present, whom I am expected to get along with. As someone who appears to be a young female (I’m not that young), I’m at increased vulnerability for things like uninvited attempts at gaining and holding my attention and groping, although the latter will almost definitely instigate immediate hostile retribution on my part. That is, the one person who I know would try something like that is afraid of me. :D I also keep my guard up around him, so he doesn’t have an opening to sneak in.

You get my point.

Why has he historically been invited, even though he has a record of this? Why are his friends invited?

“Why is your family dysfunctional?” you ask, rather. I don’t know. Not entirely. But I have a feeling it’s because no one in that family has learned to say (or insist), “no.” Or to accept, “no,” for an answer.

It’s also really, extremely cold outside, at least for here. Yesterday we had hail that didn’t melt, for a very long time. This is basically the first serious storm we’ve had since Spring (if you don’t count the windstorms that caused our power company to temporarily shut down service, about a month ago).

Right now…well, I go back to work tomorrow, because I haven’t yet learned how to decline invitations to work when I try and TAKE TIME OFF. So…yeah, I guess I have that problem, too. I’m hoping to carve out some more time for myself in this next month, however. I’ve been trying to work at least ten out of every fourteen days, even if it’s just a four- or five-hour shift.

I think I got a little spoiled on getting paid for putting in 75 hours over two weeks, so getting a paycheck for half that much when I work about 40 hours over two weeks, is a bit disappointing. It’s still about twice as much as I got when I was an Aide, however. The major difference besides that is that I’m allowed to work up to full-time, whereas before I could only work up to half-time. Still no benefits, but if I make it through Probation, I’ll be allowed to settle at a permanent branch as a salaried employee, with the possibility of health, dental, and vision coverage.

So…looking at where I stand right now, I am…I’m okay, financially. It helps that I’m living with family, otherwise I couldn’t do this.

The thing about work is that the more I work, the easier it is, to work. That makes it kind of scary to consider taking time off of work. But I’m pretty sure I could use it.

As regards the holidays…there’s nothing right now that I really want, that I don’t have. That’s part of the reason I’m okay with going to work, tomorrow. I’m offsetting what I’ve done already. :) Today has been…nice, but, you know, boundaries. If we all had appropriate boundaries, it could have been nicer.

Christmas, in particular, has been historically tough for me. When I was young, it was the day when all my relatives (aside from nuclear family) showed me how much they didn’t know who I was. So I learned, eventually, that my close family had a much better idea of my identity, aside from a “little girl” stereotype. (I’ve found, over much of my life, that people have tried to guess at my identity from seeing my appearance — which is a poor way of gauging anyone.) I also eventually learned that if I wanted something, I should get it myself, for myself.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that. Not to rely on other people to know who I am, or what I want. Right now, I have what I want.

I guess this actually is turning into a Thanksgiving post, isn’t it? I’m happy to have a job, and my family, and to be able to just stay home and warm when I could be out. (It doesn’t make sense to be out in this cold, though.) I’m also happy that I’m beginning to be able to set boundaries and just not go to a place which is more emotional labor, on my part, than celebration.

Coming up…coming up, I’m hoping to spend more time at home. I’m still not sure what the optimal amount of time is for me to be working, though I might know more about that, next month. This was my first time of actually trying to work 2/3 of the days I could (approximately 5/7). Yesterday at work was tough…mostly because I was categorized as an Opener, and hadn’t been told so. I shouldn’t be in charge of dealing with some of this stuff (I have been told in Training), but apparently that doesn’t mean I won’t be put into that position.

I can smell food warming, right now. I should probably sign off, so that I can have some time to rest my eyes before heading off to eat.

Anyway, happy Thanksgiving, though I know it’s likely just a U.S. thing. :)

art, career, comics, creativity, self care, self-publishing, work

Creativity and adulthood

It wasn’t that long ago that I took a chance on Ecoline transparent watercolors. I still haven’t gotten to use them. Bright side, I did eventually (tonight) get around to flushing and soaking my Pilot Prera — this is the calligraphy nib fountain pen which was filled with orange-red ink. It was drying out, and I realized I needed to do something before it dried out all the way. It’s not my goal to kill my fountain pens, and the Pilots tend to dry out more quickly than the TWSBI Ecos (though less quickly than the LAMY, which I’ve gotten rid of). The TWSBIs have a silicone O-ring under the cap, which screws on, whereas the Pilots just have caps that slide on.

I’ve intended to move back into sequential art, but either I’m getting distracted (likely by work, which I’m not sure anyone can call a “distraction”), or I’m just…adulting. I keep being called in for work on days I had designated as rest days. Which, I think, is why someone told me that I needed to have “boundaries” in this job.

Today I had to stay home or be miserable for seven hours — I chose to come home and sleep. Apparently, I’ve picked up some kind of bug (D thinks it’s a cold). It’s early enough in the cycle that I’m probably contagious. I’m pretty sure I must have picked it up yesterday at work…honestly the last few days are a blur, though. It’s like a day is missing in there and I’m not sure which one it is. Though I did get to see “Hamilton”. It’s possible that I got exposed that day on public transit, though that means it would have had to incubate for a few days.

I have been finishing reading a book on the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, which is possibly a reason why I was sick, today. We’re all expected to give reviews or information on books in the library. I’m a little miffed that the author didn’t say what was actually going on with the water until 2/3 of the way through the book. What’s actually disappointing about the situation in Flint, as well, is that it could have been rectified by having A CHEMIST ON STAFF. Seriously. There are also a lot of other ways it could have been stopped, but it seems the government was determined to fail in this case.

Anyhow…I’ve been working a lot and reading a lot and my free time for art has suffered. That’s kind of annoying, considering that I have enough materials and am just lacking in time or prioritization. Something that could have mattered, though: I have been trying to fix up a different site online…I’m paying close to $200/year for it, and it’s been locked from the beginning. It was originally for my portfolio, but I have to do work if I want to make that part of it public (which doesn’t seem like the greatest idea). More likely is that I’ll be sectioning off that part of it and using the rest to play around with having a real website, as versus a subdomain at this one.

As I’m aging, that is, I am finding that my portfolio isn’t going to be a great strength — of much more use is the experience I’m getting, on the job. If I make a professional website and update it regularly, as well, it could be worth more than the portfolio.

I think I’m just going to have to either work my creativity into my job, though, or otherwise carve out time for it. I still have to figure out how many hours a week I want to work, and when and where I want to work. There are a couple of local places I hadn’t considered, until seeing how far (and potentially hazardous) it is to get to other branches. There are going to be at least two work sites within 10 minutes’ drive, and not being able yet to drive myself, this can matter.

Anyhow…my habits suggest that if I want to make comics, I should be reading more of them. I might also want to take a look at bookbinding resources. I have been taught how to make ‘zines, but unfortunately I don’t quite remember how to make a 16-page one out of one sheet of paper. That could just be interesting, if I didn’t want to sew the things together myself. It’s possible, that is, to make a large image and then have it printed on one sheet of paper, then cut and fold to create booklets.

Why would I do this? I’m not entirely sure. Especially given that unless the 16-page ‘zine is printed on a huge paper, I’m dealing with very little real estate where it comes to space on each page.

And yes, I do have an interesting idea to just print out a big long spiel on the back of that paper.

Or to default to 8.5″x11″ paper and forgo bleeds (printing to the edge of the page), then write and insert images and have that printed out and perfect-bound like a college Reader.

…I should get back to sleep. I can feel it.

Business, jewelry, money, organization

Additional income stream?

Now I am, again, thinking of selling my beadwork. Not because I have to, but because I can, and just probably, should. On top of that, even though I’m getting paid more at work, it’s still not enough to survive on. I still basically have to live with other people, because it costs so much to live here and because of my apparent economic developmental stage. (If someone has used the term before, I’m not intending to use their definition; I’m just saying that I’ve never had a full-time job with benefits and a living wage. I still don’t, and I think that’s something I’ve just got to figure out or experience, and see if I can handle it.)

Over the weekend (well…my weekend, given my schedule), I went to a bead convention and stocked up on…a lot of beads. As recently as two days before the event, I had resolved not to go, because I knew I would spend. Then I was unable to pick up a Substitute position for Friday, and it seemed a bit serendipitous.

Am I glad I went? Yes. Do I miss what I spent? Not yet. I’ll still have opportunities to pick up more work before the holidays, and I still have more than I did at my best times working just above minimum wage.

I also spent about what I would normally spend in two or three trips to the bead store.

I suppose that kind of puts it into perspective.

Tonight, Saturday night, I’ve been logging the actual items I got and how much they cost. Yesterday, I logged my receipts (there weren’t too many). So…I’m beginning to see how I could or might make a database, should I care to. I mean, just for practice and kicks. I could have a table for suppliers, one for receipts, one for my purchases within those receipts, one for sales (that gets deeper, if I want to track and keep clients), one for cost and description of items, likely one or two for taxes…at least, so I think without really writing it down or planning it out or getting back a seller’s permit (yet).

The latter impacts taxes (a seller’s permit allows me to pay taxes after sale of my items, not at point of purchase of materials to make those items; it also can allow me discounts) and also the initial outlay of funds. Then there are other costs, like setting up a P.O. Box and a Web presence, and maybe finding a photographer. ;)

The thing with databases is that in design, I’ve got to look at desired functionality, first. Because I haven’t handled things on the financial side so much, I mean particularly where it comes to taxes on gross income (State and Federal income; M handled it), I’m not totally sure about all sides of this. That is, I’m not sure of all the requirements.

I’m actually not even sure if I should use Etsy or maybe put some stuff up there and have my own web domain, as well. A lot of people I’ve seen, have been using Square for payment transactions, which makes me feel a little better. I had seen a lot of negative reviews for Square as well, but…it is the Internet; not everything is what it looks like. I’ve also historically been looking at web hosts, which is, well, really important. I’ve had one in mind which uses Square, but backed off of it after I read multiple complaints about people having their Square accounts frozen. However…like I said, I’ve seen a lot of people using it.

There’s also the point that I tend to avoid Etsy personally, because my computer sometimes acts like it’s picked up a bug after I visit. It’s a reason I might not sell there, if I can’t even look at things without having to run a series of scans afterward just to get things back to normal. Since adwcleaner also started removing bloatware, I’ve also become wary of using that tool too much or unnecessarily (out of fear it will remove my utilities, although one of mine spontaneously started working again).

But yeah, I guess that’s what happens when you actually use your computer.

Anyhow. Tonight was all about trying to organize the table that looked like a windstorm hit it, and I think I did a fairly good job. I had to log things before I could put them away, or risk not logging them. Thus, not knowing how much anything cost — which kind of puts a wrench into my pricing, by my not knowing if I’m losing money or gaining it. I’m getting better; I’m actually attempting to log quantities now, along with prices. :P (I need both, for the prices to have any validity.)

I feel bad about this as well, but I may have to want to look for additional storage. I know a place where I can get some sweet little boxes which were $0.50 each, the last time I found them. The problem is that…well, what good is storage if you don’t use the things you stored. I mean, it isn’t entirely about collecting. But the things I have in the little boxes are mostly “bead soup” (mixed colors and sizes of bead, in this case), and they are, amazingly, some of the most interesting and inspiring parts of everything I have.

I’ve also got to consider taking out — I mean just taking out some of these vials of beads that I feel I’m never going to use, and re-purposing the vials with things I think I will use, or want to use. The question becomes, then, am I actually not going to use those other beads, or was it just a lack of artistic vision, or aesthetic error which caused me to cull them? Sometimes later additions to a collection will make beads that I thought I’d never use, something I would consider using, in an updated palette.

Then again, that doesn’t entirely justify having them take up space in my main storage. I could just as easily put those 10 grams of beads that would have been in a vial, into a plastic bag, and throw them in a different storage area…kind of like the surplus of size 6/0 beads I got a while back, which came in temporary sealed plastic (can I even call them bags?).

Since, though, I’ve actually bought pairs of earrings which were between $50-$70 from local artisans…I can see that if I make things people want (and don’t want to make, or can’t make, or which wouldn’t be cost-effective to make, themselves), I do have a chance of at least recouping my losses by selling beaded jewelry, if not making a profit. It probably won’t be as large an income stream as I would get just by being salaried, but I could occupy myself and build my skill — and not, you know, just have a total loss from buying beads with what I do earn from my job.

art, comics, creativity, fine arts

Content vs. technique; solidifying an identity

I just blew through the second half of a free online watercolor class that I started and then forgot about. Because I have (very) mixed feelings about it…I won’t say whose class it was. What I will say is that to me, it fell short on content. Technique was plentiful…but the themes tackled were very, “safe,” to the point that I was led to wonder why this person made art in the first place. To me, reproducing or creating “beauty” is no longer an aim in and of itself.

I am, however, biased in that I have been firstly a writer (and trained in Literature, on top of that — not Science Fiction or Horror [even as I might have wished]), secondly or thirdly an artist or illustrator (depending on where you place “beadworker” in that hierarchy, and depending on how you define “artist” or “illustrator”). I’m aware that content is not a high point in making jewelry. However, it is fundamental to Literature, and maybe I just am a “comics” person to the point that I hope to find it in Fine Art. Which means that I get disappointed frequently, I guess.

That is likely a good thing where it comes to my making a “comic” (bad art with a good story can often be forgiven; a bad story with good art, not so much)…but it’s disappointing when I know that I’ve worked in so many creative endeavors because there were things bursting to get out of me, and it seems that the person I had hoped to learn from, doesn’t appear to engage anything like them.

There’s this…or perhaps that she was intentionally making her tutorials so that we would just focus on technique. But then there’s the question of why we would want to do that in the first place, and how to adapt those skills to facilitate expression with content. I mean, you know, so it’s more than just something aesthetically pleasing. Of course, “aesthetically pleasing” does infer that there is some kind of content; maybe below conscious awareness; maybe lacking words.

But it’s kind of hard to relate to someone who draws experience from nature, when you’re in human-created environments a lot of the time, and they aren’t always nice to look at or inhabit. In such a case, obtaining art of nature feels like it could be escapism. And I’m not sure in what manner to value escapism (as versus engagement), in a time such as ours.

So…there was something good that came out of this, which is that I know more about where my own priorities lie, at present. Also, I didn’t pay any money for it. Just time.

The reason why I’m a bit disappointed is that I went back to the tutorials to see just how I might use the watercolors I do have…and this is entirely not what I want to be doing. It’s someone showing me what she does, and I barely see how that intersects with what I would do. As I originally looked at her work because she is known for working, “loose,” as I was constantly encouraged to do in my Art classes…I’m thinking that maybe it’s just not me to work loose, and never will be, and that it was a pedagogical mistake for my teachers to try and push me to work differently (or my mistake to listen to them). I mean, maybe that was just a view of a bunch of members of the Art Department (where I can’t trust that specific Art Department to be neutral, any more than I could trust the members of the English Department to be neutral).

I have started to look up some things on Illustration, which may be what I’m trying to find with this, as versus Fine Art. There is also the point that Illustration is devalued next to Fine Art (like Crafts are devalued next to Fine Art), and I’m starting to think it’s because Fine Art as a discipline doesn’t really know what it is or what it’s doing or why, at this point. After Modernism hit (I’m thinking Duchamp), causing people to question the very definition of Art…well, yeah. I’m not sure if we’ve fully recovered from that, yet.

Not intending to insult people who can make Fine Art, work, because I know sometimes it works, and sometimes it works spectacularly. I just didn’t find what I was looking for, with this last tutorial. Which, you know, it’s like what did I expect, it was a free class over the Internet. And I’ve paradoxically been able to realize the most about who I was, by accepting who I was not.

I guess the bright side of not knowing what Art is, is that then it opens the field to be more than what it has been, historically. I just wonder…to what extent learning from the past, won’t help. That doesn’t mean to avoid traditional media; but rather…if Art is becoming something more than what it has been, to what extent will learning what it has been assist us in creating what it becomes? And will learning what it has been allow me to recognize tradition and paradoxically, release me from trying to depend on it?

art, art media, comics, drawing, illustration, writing

The Neurotic Artist *shudder*

Well…let’s see. I have been able to play around with markers, a bit…though I still haven’t thoroughly tested them out on anything. What I have found is that Strathmore 300 Bristol Board (Smooth Finish) works well with Copics — though I actually found that out prior to trying it, by watching Youtube videos. :) Those things are fun.

The Bristol board is basically absorbent, which I think works in favor of blendability with these markers. I have also observed, however, that there is a color shift between the times the paper is saturated with ink, and the time at which the solvent has evaporated off (it gets brighter). I also have Fabriano Mixed Media paper, which is heavy like Bristol board. From a short observation, it appears…well, the colors appear brilliant. I had been using Bienfang Graphics 360 Marker Paper (thin and translucent), for what I had been doing in my sketchbook. That is, draw in pencil roughs, overlay, draw in inks, photocopy, color.

I…have not seen what the underlying drawing (beneath the Copics) actually looks like underneath the Bienfang, though! I wouldn’t be surprised if it were unusable as a rough sketch, at this point: Copics bleed. Seriously, they bleed. Not so much to the side (like Chartpaks, which dependably spread so that you learn to color a couple of millimeters inside the lines), but down into the paper. So if the ink got underneath that marker paper…even though the marker paper is supposed to discourage bleeding…it could seriously mess up an image (which I thankfully didn’t have to deal with, the last time I used this workflow).

The obvious answer to this is to take up and reposition what is — in effect — the cel, before coloring it, as the pencils basically serve as a backup device if the inks go awry. If the inks go fine, the photocopy of the inks serves as a backup device to coloring — in case something gets messed up in the coloring. There’s no sane reason to leave it taped down so that the pencils get ruined by the markers, except that the aesthetic of the pencils showing through, adds something to the piece. Which…would be for me, I take it, and anyone else who looked in my sketchbook.

Have I been doing computer-generated graphics for too long? I seem to have too many fail-safes in place. The answer to this dilemma in a CG environment is to save prolifically, under multiple filenames, so that if something gets ruined I have a backup copy of the last usable form. That…hasn’t been so much of an issue, though, at least so far (though maybe I should expect it to be an issue, then I can get back on with experimenting).


Anyhow…I do have a light box, which would be the step I would go to if I needed a new copy of the inks — on good paper. Not photocopying paper, but paper that is meant for markers. At this point, I don’t know how old the bulb is, in there, but it’s at least a psychological option, at this point. Otherwise, I’d be tracing off a window. (The sun comes up once every day…right?)

I also have a hypothesis about the function of storytelling: it enables us to practice psychological adaptation to presently unforeseen circumstances (or conditions) before they occur.


I know that’s random.

In any case…I’m curious to see what would happen if I did all this work on one surface (like the Bristol board or the Mixed Media paper). I haven’t yet attempted it, though the possibility is attractive for the reason that I could use limited amounts of wet media (watercolors, inks) on those surfaces, in addition to or in lieu of markers.

A very long time ago I had a vial of Daler-Rowney Pro White (an opaque white watercolor; “Pro” is short for, “Process,” like Process Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, or Black [Printer’s inks]; a.k.a., “Process White”), which I could never get open except maybe once, because the lid had cemented itself onto the jar. I got a new jar of this, though, which I can open, and this stuff — I know — is very opaque. It’s kind of awesome, but I haven’t used it, certainly, for years.

The upshot of using the heavier papers, though, is the chance to be able to add in opaque white highlights without being limited to a Gelly Roll pen or a fine-tipped paint marker (which have both been a little translucent for my tastes). White gouache also works, though I haven’t tried all of these next to each other to see which is best.

I should do that when I get the chance. Right now I have Holbein Permanent White and Zinc White. Zinc is more translucent than Permanent (Titanium), though I wouldn’t know that without having major troubles with Titanium White in a painting class (how to lighten a color without either greying it out and blocking the undertones, or changing its hue to lean yellow), which Zinc White would have relieved.

I…am aware, or am coming to awareness, that I now do have the option of taking upper-echelon Art classes…and paying for them myself (no FAFSA needed), and holding down a job at the same time. (It sounds crazy, but one of the upshots of my job as it stands, is flexible scheduling.)

In any case, I can try these both with brush and with dip pen, though I don’t know how adequately a dip pen will work with anything seriously opaque; nor would I know how to clean it out of any nib which consisted of more than one piece of metal (like cartooning nibs and some broad nibs). I’m thinking of trying something pointed, at first, just to see if it works, and how it works.

Other than that, I’m thinking this is a good place to leave off, for the night. I’ve got something coming up very soon, though I’m not sure about the amount of money I’m willing to put out for it. It is something I’ve been looking forward to, though, for a while. I’m just not totally certain of where in my self-imposed hierarchy of importance, it stands.

But hey, future me: if you find a strand of 8mm blue Apatite beads, get them.


Reading ’til I get sick

So…let’s see. I want to get back to my art. I haven’t drawn much within the last few days, which is kind of surprising, after all that worry about getting Copics in colors. What I have been doing is reading. A lot.

Right now I’m in the middle of several books, though the anchor is Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond. While I was reading that, I got curious about exactly what made the Flint River acidic (was it natural, or human-caused?), so I found a book on the water crisis in Flint, Michigan — The Poisoned City, by Anna Clark. I also have begun reading The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula Le Guin.

There are a bunch of other things that have popped up as curiosities as a result of reading Collapse, The Sixth Extinction, Conversations on Writing, The Left Hand of Darkness, etc. For example, I have here a book titled Bad Water by Robert Stolz about an ecological crisis in Japan between 1870 and 1950.

I haven’t looked for Bad Water in libraries, due to the fact that I already own a copy (I believe I found it in a Japanese bookstore, and not in Honolulu)…but the main issue explored was the phenomenon of acid mine drainage, and what happened to the people downriver of a mine when dissolved heavy metals from that drainage contaminated the water they cooked, fished in, grew their crops in, drank, and bathed with. To the best of my knowledge, this is where the term itai itai (“it hurts, it hurts”) originated, as a name for a syndrome that causes decalcification of the bones to the point that they crumble under the weight of the body.

But I haven’t read all the way through the book, yet. It just seemed to fit with — particularly — Collapse, as a human-generated phenomenon that caused an ecological collapse which ended up impacting (and killing) people. Diamond calls it, “ecocide.”

Then there is the entire “fracking” controversy…which I don’t feel ready enough to speak about at this point, but essentially fracking (or “hydraulic fracturing”) is a way to remove natural gas from underground which can make the groundwater toxic. Whether this should even be allowed, is a politically charged conversation in the U.S. On one hand, it reduces dependence on foreign oil reserves. On the other, it can destroy supplies of freshwater.

It does remind me of cyanide heap leaching, which is a way of extracting gold from low-grade ore which causes massive destruction of the environment. The cleanup of this is so expensive that it’s often abandoned and left up to the Federal government. I learned about this in one of my Metals (Jeweling) classes, and it basically (on top of low pay rates, relatively high hazard levels, and necessitation of certain levels of bodily function [e.g. fine motor skills, clear vision]) made me not want to be a Jeweler.

On a different note, I’ve also begun reading Le Guin’s fiction. I have with me The Left Hand of Darkness and The Lathe of Heaven, though I haven’t started the latter. Le Guin, in Conversations on Writing, at least implies, if not outright states, that Virginia Woolf was a large influence on her (from the number of times Woolf is mentioned). This has gotten me curious about giving Woolf’s Orlando a second chance (whereas its opening scene was enough to disgust me, as a younger and more sensitive person). I also have a copy of Middlesex. All three — Orlando, Left Hand of Darkness, and Middlesex — feature gender-shifting. It’s possible that I could use these as the beginning of a reading list.

I’m also reading about Reader’s Advisory service, which is something that library schools tend not to address. That, in turn, is why I’ve begun reading fiction again…I need to know this stuff! I wasn’t doing constant recreational reading during my time as a Library Aide, so I have some catching up to do.

What’s interesting is that the first chapter of Left Hand of Darkness is what has stuck in my mind, the most (out of everything I’ve read recently). It probably has to do with the fact that reading fiction takes co-imagining of the situation described by the text, for the text to actually function.

So…yesterday (Wednesday) I was home and asleep for most of the time, after having stayed up late on Tuesday night (and into Wednesday morning), reading. Particularly…I felt towards the end of Tuesday night that I was starting to get sick with something (coughing, sneezing, nose-blowing), so I stayed home on Wednesday, and slept in, today (Thursday).

Yeah — I really need to regulate my sleep, better.

libraries, work

Passing training!

I’m writing in, not because I’m feeling it, but because some significant stuff has happened, and I think I “should” record it. Yesterday was my first day of work as an official Library Assistant. I completed my training on Halloween, and have to cover a set number of Sunday shifts before the end of the year. It just happened that my two options were both places that I had never even visited, before, so…finding my way around was a bit difficult.

I’ve also been reading, but haven’t yet set up a schedule for Japanese language study — reading and writing, and then speech. Right now I’m on The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert, and Collapse by Jared Diamond (of Guns, Germs, & Steel), which are remarkably similar so far. The first is about extinction as it focuses on species, while the second is about extinction as it focuses on human societies.

As for Ursula Le Guin’s On Writing, I did finish it, and that kinda snarky quip I remembered (that if people didn’t want to be written about as doing bad things, then maybe they should be better people), wasn’t her. I think a lot of the value of that book, since I haven’t to recollection read any of Le Guin’s stories (other than The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas and possibly some other shorter works — searching “le guin bibliography” did bring up a page with at least many of her works), was the tracing of her influences. It’s good to read who writers read, sometimes, especially if you like them (or think you might; or they’re in your world, somehow, as someone influential).

I still remember that someone recommended Stephen King’s On Writing, which…I read a small portion of in a bookstore, and very quickly determined that I didn’t want to read any more of it. From what I saw, he has a very “masculine” view of the world, which I don’t really need to expose myself to.

But then, I never really read anything of his, either; I just know that he’s a prolific writer who bases a lot of his work on dreams. And has had his stuff made into movies and TV series…though from what I’ve seen, I’m not really a fan. I think he was recommended to me because I do have to deal with a lot of dreamscape-type stuff in my own work…but I’m still getting out of a masculinist framework of Hemingway’s sort. I also have my own toxic masculinity to deal with; I don’t want to reinforce it.

There are just some books like that, where they’ve been recommended, and I flip through them and can quickly see that the “energy” of the book is just way too intense for me to tolerate. When that’s not grounded in anything real or of consequence (like an author whose name I shall not mention who obviously recalls for me, descriptions of Oppositional Defiant Disorder), it just puts me off. Same thing happens when something routine (like minority characters being understandable as human) is seen as extraordinary due to the time period or prejudice of the author or narrator. I can accept the latter, but some discoveries are so basic to me that I…really lose interest.

It goes back to the fact that there is no one universal, “good book,” that everyone will like. Although reader’s advisory questions often start off with, “I’m looking for a good book, what do you think is a good book,” not, “I’m looking for a book that I will like.” The latter obviously brings in the reader’s subjectivity, and that’s not always easy to navigate, especially when it becomes thoroughly obvious that the Adviser and and the Reader are such different people, that connection (let alone understanding) is difficult. What I would like is not necessarily what you would like. We both need to understand what you’re looking for before we embark on looking for it…

At least I’m reading again, and I can kind of get a sense of a book by flipping around in it, or reading excerpts in addition to reviews. I can also do some studying in my off time, though I know people told me not to worry about that…but also that I was encouraged when I showed that I did actually do my own work to fill my own knowledge gaps…