craft, creativity, jewelry design, small business planning, work

I write too much…

Yeah…I think it’s understandable why cyberspace has been so quiet, recently. As for what’s going on over here…I’m still dealing with a problematic creative pattern (grab onto a project like a pitbull and not let go until my body gives out, then avoid it the next day because my body doesn’t want to go through that again)…though I have realized that I have another beadweaving pattern I originated, which I had forgotten about until putting the earrings in as placeholders over Xmas.

Like I’ve said before: I make a lot of jewelry, I don’t necessarily wear a lot of jewelry. I’ve had these piercings for a while, but I still get a little…worried, that they’ll close up with disuse. I probably don’t have to worry about that quite so much, given that they were originally pierced at 14g. Yes, I do miss my surgical steel rings, but putting them back in means that either I forego wearing regular earrings, I constantly wear a nut on the back of all my earwires and deal with possible migration, or I fabricate custom 14g earwires for everything I wear…and trust me, silver isn’t that cheap. 14g wire is pretty expensive, that is, just from the sheer weight of it.

I do realize that if I want to run this jewelry thing as a microbusiness with significant returns, I’m going to have to work more. A lot more. Just slightly prior to Xmas, though, I did encounter the beginnings of a depressive episode, which is likely what has slowed me down over the past couple of weeks. (I’ve just realized that I’ve only been out of classes for three weeks, so far!) I had wanted to sew face coverings to give out over the holidays…but for multiple reasons, prime among them a very late start due to having my attention taken up with my University course, that didn’t happen.

“A very late start”…unless I jumped into making face coverings at the moment I thought of doing so and worked as hard and as fast as I could and sent them out as soon as I could, I would be late. And even then, I probably would still have been late. University conditions you, not to be late; that it can mean failure, to be late. (Unless you’re working with accommodations.) Of course, University matters because they’re reporting your grades to the Federal Government, which impacts any future Financial Aid. Making money through selling jewelry has no such penalty for lost time. Except, well: lost income.

I think that the realization that I wasn’t going to make the Xmas deadline/buying rush (for either gifts or sales) was probably the beginning of the episode — or the beginning of my noticing it, at least. I notice in my backfiles some information about OCD, as well…which was probably what was most easily visible. You deal with this stuff a while, and it gets easier to recognize when you’re experiencing symptoms.

Then there was the fact that I had hoped to be up and running with my beadwork, in time for the Xmas buying season. That, obviously, didn’t happen — although I did clarify some things for myself, like why I’m doing this, and what my goals are. I made the move to decide that there is, philosophically, value in the creation of beauty.

What’s really…interesting, is that when you’re working with an inclusive gender definition, it can be difficult to create gender expressions which are clearly intended for that definition. I mean…you make nice things, and those who want to, can wear them.

I’ve heard fairly commonly that people in the nonbinary community have a tendency to be slotted as cisgender men and women, though by this time, the trope is…well, used. No longer upsetting, that is, because you know it’s coming…and you know that the people saying it have their own issues to deal with. And I, at least, know enough NB people that I see a difference between cis and NB, even if nothing earth-shatteringly different appears on the outside. (Two things that do appear from within, are acceptance and understanding.) The thing is: nothing should have to appear different on the outside, for a person’s gender identity to be respected.

Right now…I’m in a stage of breaking out of being intentionally gender-neutral. In specific, there’s nothing wrong with pink. Or violet. Even if I’m biologically female. Even if mostly women will wear these. It’s OK. Nothing at all says that I have to or need to sell specifically to NB people (and if that had been part of my business plan, I would likely need to alter it — we’re not that incredibly common).

I’m hoping to use these colors, soon…and maybe I should do it. I mean, really plan on doing it. Like, purchase some stuff and set aside some blocks of time, to do it. That infers — well — planning…which I may be able to work out with one of my extra A5 notebooks, or by using a printed spreadsheet.

The thing I’m dealing with now is the tension between working on designs I have already created beforehand, and experimenting with new supplies and techniques. The latter takes a lot of time, but can involve totally new practices (which is exciting); the former allows me to refine previously set patterns and experiment specifically with color (but not so much with form).

If I look at it now…I have several designs I’ve come up with totally on my own, which I know I came up with totally on my own. I’m not sure it’s worth it to go through the actual process of registering copyright, especially as the designs are refined and change, over time (a.k.a., constantly). It might be good enough just to mail myself copies of the schematics in preemptive defense, although I know copyright law says I’m good from the time of creation.

Ah, the concept of intellectual property. How…how annoying are you. Or maybe I should say, “concept of intellectual property, how easily you are misused….”

art, book arts, creative writing, drawing, graphic design, psychology, self care

Sparked

I’m not entirely sure what happened, except that I recalled — after having had a mood crash not even two weeks out of classes — how much I had been doing before that class started in order to keep my mood stable. In particular…writing, and art. And not just “writing” as in “journal writing,” writing as in Fiction writing: particularly, literature. I was trained in Literature, but…let’s just say that what I have to say about the world could be construed as libel if I should hold too close to reality (but not yet close enough).

Last night I realized that what I might be seeking in that area was SF/F, or for the uninitiated, Science Fiction and Fantasy. I’ve…had a very long relationship with the latter, not knowing it was the latter. Kind of like I was writing a gender-nonbinary character long before I had ever heard of nonbinary gender. Not to get stuck on that — I have gotten tired of Middlesex and Left Hand of Darkness supposedly being about gender — but…I can see where this (writing) could sustain me for a while, at least, psychologically.

There are two large places where my desire to write is being hampered. The first is with not reading enough. Fiction, I mean. I have what is, by now, the same old story rattling around in my head which I have not set toner to paper to, yet. This is mostly because it’s underdeveloped, and a good portion of that lack of development has to do with its being “a nice fantasy” without real-world problems being interjected into it. I haven’t, that is, wanted to burden my characters with suffering of the kind I have experienced. Although that, overall…if I hold to that, it could lead me to some interesting worldbuilding places.

“That,” meaning, my own experience with trying to find enough pleasure in life to willfully drive it to continue…and then the relief from medication with antidepressant action which concomitantly has at times felt…false? The problem is that the pain seems real even though it’s a symptom of a known psychiatric disorder; a problem with wiring and connectivity and feedback, if you will. Runaway focus on pain like tracks ground into hard dried mud. The issue is that the thing I have the most pain over is the state of the world, and that is something I cannot, “fix.” Because I can’t fix it, I have to do what I must so that I survive, despite it. Outwit the thanatos.

In my case, I’ve opted for psychiatric medications over street drugs or suicide: over street drugs, because I was told that going on them would be the worst possible thing I could do for myself. Over suicide, because suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. At least, they say it’s temporary. People being ****heads, though…that’s kind of a permanent problem, I think.

I also know that death is likely to come far too early for me. If things are going well, that is, and life remains worth living. We do tend to hope that things will go well…

The second place where I’m sabotaging myself has to do with creating worlds and relationships which are more hospitable to life than this reality…which in tandem with my tendency to depression, means that I can prefer living in that world to living in this one. And I know that, and that is a problem. Or maybe knowing it means that I can guard against growing closer in my proximity to self-annihilation, while still receiving the benefit of rest which fantasy can harbor.

Of course, it does also seem that a whole LOT of people are close to self-annihilation right now. Not going to lie.

Anyhow, D had me (re-)watch a program on bookbinding, tonight, which got me curious enough to make a small maquette of a binding design. It’s really nothing…huge. :) Simply a way to take a horizontal format and place it on a shelf so that the spine still shows the title, author, publisher, without sticking so far out of line that it becomes problematic to store. As a person who used to shelve books — A LOT of books — and have heavy art books occasionally try to fall on them, I know that this is a fairly perennial problem. You don’t want to be in the Arts & Music Folio section when an earthquake hits, let me just say (although places which actually do have Folio sections are likely to be safer, due to specialized shelving units).

This is actually a reason I was driven to learn Japanese language: I had mostly been exposed to manga, not English comics. The entire flow of the page is different in manga — more often vertical in nature, and from right to left. This makes sense for Japanese language, which can be written vertically, and read from right to left when in that vertical format. It remains a problem for the English-writer who is inspired by manga but cannot write legibly and vertically at the same time. This is where wide-format books come into play, as English runs horizontally.

So basically: I now have puzzled out that three columns of 2×4 units (horizontal x vertical) for each page, laid out horizontally, makes a total spread of 12×4 units which can be used variously as a relatively standard-appearing comic grid (when divided into 2×2 squares), six columns of text, or text interspersed with images — the last two of which, I think I’m going to be using.

This is a different way of thinking about things, but it should afford me some rest from having to draw out an entire world, along with granting me the capability of inserting images by design. It also should give me the chance to play with InDesign…if I really cared that much about it. However: I have the materials for this. I know what has to be done. The next step…hmm. Hadn’t thought about the next step.

I believe it would be scriptwriting, possibly combined with storyboarding. I did start to take a class in this, but there were crazy high race tensions in that class, probably because the instructor was trying to seem anti-racist and…I don’t think they knew the point of anti-racism. Depicting diversity alone isn’t anti-racist. Trying to be anti-racist so you look more woke on the street isn’t the point of…

Let’s not go there. Wusa.

Anyhow. Scriptwriting, storyboarding. In working with a grid format, I would be imposing some limitations on myself, as in how long I can take to complete a thought, or what I’d need to put in place so the reader turns the page. Also: font size. Though I’m thinking of hand-lettering. (I do have an Ames Lettering Guide…)

I also need to be reading, more. At this point, I am wondering how much reading is going to take me away from the beadwork, and whether I’ll realistically be able to juggle reading, writing, beadwork, and library science. It seems I should be able to, at least so long as I don’t have a paying job…and developing skills in InDesign and Photoshop…that will be worth it, especially if I start looking for gig work as a writer.

Gosh, I…forgot I’d be writing all this…!

Maybe it would be best to work it out in text, first, and draw alongside, then see which one comes out as more dominant…

personal, psychology, self care

The reason why I was in classes

It’s been a little less than two weeks since classes have ended, and I’m noticing warning signs that I’m headed into a depression. Though, truthfully — at an early stage, who can tell? It might be a number of other things.

To be honest, though, I feel like my OCD is going into overdrive, and that’s why my mood is collapsing. I need to be actually making things, or doing something to occupy my mind, to tone down the paranoia (I wouldn’t be surprised if my amygdala were responsible [I wonder how ironic it is to be angry at one’s own amygdala] but I don’t really know).

I mean, there’s, “appropriately concerned,” and then there’s, “overtly paranoid.” In the middle of a surge in the middle of a pandemic, from the inside of a mind that has had to deal with obsessive thoughts around contamination for the last 26 years or so, which for a long time have felt normal (though questionable enough now to voice)…it can be hard to really understand the difference between appropriate concern and irrational hyper-concern.

I would think people would say that it isn’t possible to be too concerned: but trust me, it is. When you wash your hands to the point of their cracking and bleeding so that they no longer form a barrier against the thing you’re scared of touching, that’s overdoing it.

I’m at the point where I’m pretty certain that I would not be functional in a job right now, and my Vocational program is an unwelcome intrusion in my life. I’m having a hard enough time dealing with things coming into the house, when I’m not even the main person touching those things. I’m having a hard time touching fabric (and letting that fabric touch other fabric) which has last touched another human besides myself, two weeks ago. Can I then safely put any of that up to my face and breathe through it? We’re talking about viral half-lives, not viral extinctions.

This is not…well…I guess I can understand now why this illness alone qualifies me as disabled.

It doesn’t help, though, when there is some validity to the paranoia, and my paranoia in fact may help keep me alive (which is likely the reason it still exists in humans). That doesn’t mean it’s easy to live with, or that it isn’t instigating other mental disorders like depression. Anxiety — let alone constant anxiety — can do that.

I’m thinking I need to be doing something — anything (that isn’t drugs or eating or sodas or shopping sprees…or, sleep) — to be dealing with this. Even video games might be a step up, though I question how much a certain favorite game is going to alleviate the pain. :) Somehow, being trapped in a constantly morphing prison full of death doesn’t sound like wholesome fare when I’m feeling like this. Kudos if you know what game I’m talking about.

Of course, though: I was supposed to exercise earlier, and just didn’t. I got involved in something else. I did take Vitamins B-Complex and D, however…which should help. (I’ll take them again, tomorrow.) So should actually getting some sleep…it’s 12:50 AM here, at the moment, though I got out of bed sometime around 1:30 PM, if my memory’s correct.

Yeah, maybe tomorrow…I’ll make a point out of working with the beads (not the masks, unless I’m really OK with it) and getting some exercise and taking a shower. Even though I don’t really…feel like exercising. But that’s probably normal, when you haven’t exercised in weeks. My weight has been edging up due to inactivity and my medications. If I can consistently hold to 5 or 6 lbs. below my current weight, average — the weight I was at, at the beginning of lockdown — that would at least be a start. (I tend to set my goals too high, and then get demoralized and never even really try to reach them.)

Or maybe I should just designate a time to work out and stretch and get my heart rate up — and shower — every other day or so, without worrying about the weight component. The issue is that I work out and then crave sugar. That worked when I had a 20-year-old metabolism; not so much, now. Somehow I don’t think that eating the equivalent of two dinners, after working out and walking everywhere, is going to fly, now.

Of course…no, I haven’t tried walking everywhere…but there’s nowhere to walk to for any purpose, around here. It helps to walk when there are, you know, things within walking distance…but such is not the case at this point.

And, I suppose, it is possible that we’ll all make it through this, alive. It’s telling that I never even thought of that, until just now…

money, personal, self care, small business planning

Still alive.

Thankfully, yes, life still continues in my corner of the world.

I’ve been doing a lot of jewelry design work and, concomitantly, a lot of beadwork. I’ve got three piles of fabric to iron (I was afraid washing yellows with any other color might dull them: so there were blue + green, violet + red, and yellow + orange, loads). At the outset of lockdown, I didn’t realize that buying a relatively small amount of elastic would make it so that I wouldn’t have to spend 40 minutes per face covering (?), and I-don’t-even-want-to-count how many yards of fabric, making ties.

Winter weather has set in, meaning that now, rain and cold temperatures (as cold as it normally gets, here) are normal. Today Yesterday, the first loads of vaccine were shipped out, and the President-Elect was officially voted into office. I also learned what “dumpster fire” meant, a few days ago…and realized why some people were using the term…!

So even though it’s cold and rainy, things aren’t really so bad. Both my parents are still alive, no one’s sick (that I know of). Even though I did lose two of my older relatives earlier in COVID lockdown, and two other relatives are either going through chemotherapy or healing from injuries that could have killed them had the spirits not been with them…we haven’t lost anyone else, so far.

I also haven’t been applying for jobs. I’ve been, well, making things. Of course, one of my first pieces went out to a new friend who should be testing out the clasp mechanism for me. I haven’t quite…clarified?…that with them, though?

So, Xmas is just about 10 days away. I’ve had the idea to make a bunch of face coverings and send them out so people can look stylish as they protect themselves and others from the virus…the thing is…Xmas is about 10 days away. And we aren’t meeting. That means I have to depend on deliveries…which take time. I’m probably going to miss the Xmas deadline, but hey: it’s not like anyone is desperately awaiting a face covering they don’t know is coming. I hope.

Today was spent cleaning out a section of the living quarters — for me particularly: my bedroom, my bathroom, and my study. I really wish there were some better way of cleaning the tops of books, other than with a vacuum and brush attachment. (I still didn’t do it, though. Didn’t even try.)

As we get deeper into this…well…I’ve been spending a lot more time actually doing things with my hands, principally cleaning, preparing food, and crafting. I suppose you could say it’s pretty grounding…which can be necessary, these days. It’s really not until I came back here today that I realized how much I hadn’t been keeping up with the blog circuit. I mean, there were days worth of posts that I hadn’t seen!

In any case…it’s been pretty clear — to me — that I’ve been going back and forth over whether to have an open online presence (with, you know, opinions), or whether to go mostly private for things like communications with friends, in logging my progress (on whatever), etc., while maintaining a separate business presence. The major issue is not knowing whether it will actually ever be possible for me to have a Web presence while constantly keeping my opinions to myself. Especially as I have a tendency to be a very inward-directed and intimate writer: most of my life is internal, not external.

That is, is establishing a Web presence devoid of my own personality a goal that can (or should) be achieved? I can think of at least one obvious Web presence that doesn’t even try to separate personal opinion and business. They have strong branding, but at the same time, turn off a lot of people who don’t agree with their politics…which could also be said for a soap company I tried and didn’t fall in love with. The fact that I had to ignore their writing plastered all over the outside of the bottle…didn’t help.

The question would seem to be what demographic I’m going for as regards my audience. “Highly politicized” is not my demographic. And, I mean, I know I’m left-wing, but I also know where that can fail. I guess maybe it isn’t an issue until people start to be offended…and we just have to discount the people who are easily offended by free speech (by people like myself) in general.

On the other hand…being a presence by and for people who are just trying to live their lives fully and in peace, that’s something else. I mean, seriously: what I’ve documented on this site is just me living my life. That includes my coming into my own as a nonbinary person (I’m going to avoid getting into subtypes right now…I know what I am, but not how to name it or think of it in a way that makes sense to others), and my ongoing cultural discoveries as a mixed-race person who was not exempt from dysfunctional interracial (and intra-racial, for that matter) dynamics in my extended families.

As I write this, I’m thinking that…I’m much calmer right now than I’ve been in months, if not years. I’m not certain if that’s because I’ve spent all day cleaning my spaces, if it’s because I haven’t gone in to work, if it’s because I’m doing what I want to be doing, if it’s because of the presence of hope…? Of gratitude that I have what I do right now, even if I’ve barely been out in the last nine months…?

Seriously, this trial has been like…not a vacation, so much, as an extended Thanksgiving. You know each time your dad laughs at some silly little thing which happens, or each time your mom offers to help you, that it’s not a given and has never been a given that you would get that — or that you’ll continue to get it. So you appreciate it in the moment, knowing that you won’t always have it. Which makes it more…special. Precious.

Stringing and knotting together little beads is like this…they’re not worth much on their own, but together they can make something beautiful. Even if its value isn’t high to anyone except the people who love and appreciate what you’ve done. And they’re the people that should matter. They are your market…if you can make and sell these things in a way in which they can afford to pay you what you need to be paid, to keep doing what you’re doing.

That’s like an exchange of love. It feels like an exchange of love.

(And of course, there are the sweet people who are overjoyed at getting something for free!)

I wonder how much of this is me feeling relieved…hopeful. sekai no naka ni chiisai ii desu.

If I thought…at all…that there were any future for me in Japan, I might not have dropped off of my Japanese language lessons. Unfortunately, I’m not at all sure of that. I’m planning to take up Spanish lessons again. Not tonight. But soon. We’ll see how far I can get before the gendered nouns catch up to me…if I can think of “gender” as more of a grammatical designation and think less about how gendered nouns seem to deeply impact thought processes…I might be able to do it.

Besides, Japan isn’t the greatest place in the world, just because I’m related to people there…and I need to realize that there are “woke” hispanohablantes. In particular…there are other members of the African Diaspora in Spanish-speaking countries…I wouldn’t be alone. Of course, I wouldn’t have reached this stage without seeing that one guy on NHK World who was talking about being bullied for his race in Argentina — and being able to understand most of what he was saying, in Spanish.

And sites like afrofeminas.com, which I was led to by Repeating Islands.

Wow, I’m just a mishmash of cultures, aren’t I…? But I guess when you grow up in a place and situation like mine…you realize that there’s much to be lost in only learning the cultural heritage associated with your lineage…or one of your lineages, as the case may be…that what one may be physically related to, is not necessarily the greatest thing in the world just because of one’s disputable membership in its group.

But I can get into that another time (I’m thinking of martial arts [I’ve trained in four different styles], and my experience in Undergrad [Ethnic Studies!], for future reference).