career, libraries, LIS, planning

Taking stock

Well, all things have their ups and downs. Right now…we’re fine. My shitajiki (pencil board) came in the mail today (seriously, where am I supposed to find these outside of Japantown — in a specific size, no less), and I found my old Bullet Journal. Training for my new job starts on Monday. I haven’t decided which backpack or bag to take with me, yet…though I did try on six pairs of slacks, and found all of them fit. That’s good.

Actually, it’s really good that a lot of things, fit. My biggest problem at the moment is shirts (I have two dress shirts I love which are a little small now), but that isn’t a huge issue. I will also likely need “business casual” shoes, though at the moment I can’t tell how long I’ll be on my feet — so I don’t quite know what to do, there. The Internet says that modest sneakers can be business casual. I have a set that I had been wearing around the house because of an injury, but that’s basically healed now, so maybe I can work with those?

This is kind of…well, I guess one could say it’s a little stressful. If I didn’t have as much time to think and anticipate as I do, it might not be as tense. It also wouldn’t be as tense if they hadn’t told me the dress code only half a week before the start of training.

Well, and starting out full-time and going for a number of weeks in that manner…I don’t think I’ve ever worked a complete eight-hour day (seven hours; maybe), so it will be an experience; and I might well not be able to do much other than eat, sleep, do laundry, and take care of hygiene, outside of that. But I’ll see what happens. Maybe it won’t be so bad.

I also got help with applying for a non-Library position (in Archives & Records) at my last vocational meeting — they want Library experience, which this new job will supply better than my last one. So, even if I find out that being a Library Assistant or Librarian isn’t where I’ll be happiest, there are options outside of these positions. I know now to look for skills and job functions rather than titles, as well.

Here, at home, we’ve been cleaning up. What that means for me is that I’ve been going through my clothes, and through my scattered things like books and beads, vacuuming and dusting. I’m trying to get things into some kind of order before next week hits. I will have weekends off, though: I guess I’ve got to remember that.

Aside from these things…I’ve remembered how much I’ve enjoyed reading, from having made it through Best-Maugard’s A Method of Creative Design. Even though it is a translated work, and thus…likely simplified in its language, I have found that I really appreciate these cross-cultural works. It’s something I’ve liked in Essentials of Buddhism: Basic Terminology and Concepts of Buddhist Philosophy and Practice, and in Articulations of Difference: Gender Studies and Writing in French. I’m not entirely certain what that tells me, except maybe I have metropolitan taste?

Yeah, that doesn’t sound right…maybe the answer is more that I really love Comparative Literature as a field? (Or, I love the people who love Comparative Literature enough to major in it?) Although I didn’t really do Comparative Literature in Undergrad — so I’m not sure. I do recall enjoying one or another Russian Classics author in my English Literature program, but I can’t remember if that was Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, or someone else. I think my sibling mentioned that maybe I liked translated works because they were quality enough that someone chose to translate them, which makes sense.

Anyhow…once I get trained, if I devote myself fully to this position and career path, it can’t help but assist me if I take the time to read things that I’ve wanted to read and haven’t had the chance to (like The Sixth Extinction). I mean, for about the past three years my time has been cut down by having had to study: first for the Master’s program, and then for my Cataloging and coding courses. Understandably, I think, I didn’t want to fill the rest of my time with additional study towards becoming a Librarian, especially when I wasn’t certain that it was what I really wanted to do with my life.

But wait, you say: I thought you got the Master’s because this is what you really want to do with your life?

What I can say to that is that I had an opportunity to do this and took it, knowing that if I waited too long, the chance might not come again. It doesn’t mean I’m all about libraries at this point…although I’m probably more about libraries than most people. :) The biggest issue that stands between myself and Librarianship is whether and how much I enjoy working with people, which seems to be the majority of at least a Public Librarian’s job (or at least for those who work in User Services).

And that… I can’t tell that until I’ve tried.

And I’m about to try.

It’s kind of freaking me out a bit, but it should show me whether I do really want to go into Technical Services (this includes Cataloging, Classification, Metadata, Web Development, and Collection Development) or into a non-Library position helping classify and organize (and likely, help retrieve and provide access to) materials.

There’s also the chance that this will give me a needed push into an area I’m not as confident in, and that the challenge itself will energize me. It’s possible. I say that because I’ve seen it happen in me before.

My last day at work, the first open day of the library after a two-day shutdown for Labor Day, saw me running around trying to get as much done at Circulation as I could, because I knew we were behind and I knew this would be the last chance I would get to help, as a Shelver. When there’s too much work, I kind of switch into game mode and try and see how much I can do, how well, and how quickly; according to a standard set of priorities, and keeping track of my stamina and how much time I have left in the day. There’s no chance to give up: I just have to keep plugging away at it, because I know that anything I can get done, will help.

There’s also a book I was guided to a while ago called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, which I never really finished. Maybe it would calm me, to get back to that. I’m not sure if it can happen, but I’ve been told that it seems I’m coming out of my shell. Can shy people turn into extroverts? I know someone who says it is possible, because it happened to him (although he’s the second person I’ll know who says they are [or were] really shy, who doesn’t seem that way, to me).

Not to mention that I should likely be gradually taking a tour of the Library website.

Tomorrow (technically, later today), I’ll be getting some larger shirts. Also…we need to get some little doodads so that my dresser drawers don’t fly open during earthquakes.

Yeah, I should…I should get some sleep, shouldn’t I?

career, libraries, LIS

Well, that was fun.

We stopped by Japantown, and I got some stationery and new incense (sandalwood, and one with sandalwood, aloeswood, and some other things I forget). I was actually able to get out of the stationery store with just an A5 binder, A5 paper, and A5 dividers, for under $25.

Generally speaking, it’s very easy to spend a lot more than that, particularly because I also had my eye on fountain pens. However — I already have three pens going, here. I have to keep using them so they don’t dry out. There’s kind of an upper limit to how many pens it’s feasible to have filled, at once! On top of that, I don’t have to refill them with the same ink; and I have two untried Iroshizuku inks already, so it doesn’t make sense to get the one I regretted not getting, before. After all, I still have to try out tsutsuji (Magenta!).

I can also talk about this, now: today I had an interview for an entry-level Librarian position. I can talk about it, because I am pretty sure I didn’t get the position. :) Nor am I planning to disclose anything about the interview. It was good experience to have, though.

What I have found is that I’m at about a Library Assistant (LA; paraprofessional) level of skill — because I have not had the experience of being an LA so far. This has to do with my path to Librarianship having been nontraditional. Normally, I would have had to take an LA job much earlier, just to support myself; and I would be doing that while working through my MLIS. If I had done that, I might have been able to take on a Librarian I position right after graduation.

However, because of my path of growth and development (particularly, not knowing what to do with myself after graduating with my BA, and having a lot of extra education thereby), I’ve been supported by family much longer than might have been normal; at least, before this generation.

I have also found that maybe I want to take a Developmental Psychology class…because I may need the understanding in the future, if I go into Public Libraries as a career path. It’s just one of those things where even if I am an Adult Services Librarian, I’ll have to deal with kids, too. Of course, that assumes that I’ll stay in Public Libraries, as versus Academic. The fact also remains, though, that travel to any night class around here just isn’t totally safe. I might be able to educate myself on Library Service to children, by reading about it on my own.

(Actually, that’s a very good idea!)

Over time, working with families and children does grow on you. Most of the time at the library I’ve worked at, I’ve come into contact with babies and children below school age, and kids who are being tutored or home-schooled.

So it does look like I’m going to be able to wholly take on the new LA position, and not have to worry about having two overlapping part-time job offers.

I didn’t mention this before because I was barred from discussing it until it was announced, but it seems I’ll now be able to be a County floater and travel around to fill absences as a Library Assistant. It should be a good experience. It will definitely be more public contact than I’ve gotten as an Aide, though that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. One thing I’ve learned about being an Aide for a very long time, is that the Aide job is not easy. It’s physically strenuous, involving a lot of lifting and crouching. That’s okay if you’re 22 or younger — not so much if you’re 35.

Seriously, I’m glad to have a job now where I won’t have to be moving around, all the time. It will also help to be able to carry more responsibility and have more control over what I do.

It looks like right now, I’m going to have to take a break for dinner. I’ll likely also work on writing by hand. Today has just been…full of things.

career, libraries, LIS, planning

No, I’m not my dad :)

Today, I actually made the effort to go and look back over my work for the Cataloging & Classification courses I’ve been taking (and have now finished). I didn’t do so poorly as I thought I did…most of the issue had to do with getting one concept wrong and then repeating it through questions that kept testing on that one concept.

Though I had the possibility of going back and re-trying the quizzes, I didn’t — for most of them. The one quiz where I originally got two questions right because I was overthinking things and the test was based on “if (x === ‘answer’)” was the one where I went back and redid my work.

(That is, I only got the question right if I typed in the exact string that was defined as correct, while the [∞-1] other possible strings were all equally incorrect, so far as the computer was concerned.)

And I don’t want to get back to the JavaScript training, but it might be good for me. I did invest all that time and money with the hopes of being a Web Developer. The problem for me is, how to tie the Arts, Humanities, and/or Social Sciences in with Web Development.

I also have an inkling that if I became a college professor, I’d really like to do it with History. I’d have the background. It’s just really fascinating. Then I could create OERs (Open Educational Resources) and post them online. :)

That actually isn’t a bad idea.

In regard to JavaScript, I have a really big textbook that is begging to be read…though probably not before I finish reading the Defusing Hostile Customers Workbook. There’s a lot of stuff coming up where …it may help to continue reading this, and looking back over The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness (which I finished, a while ago). It’s not precisely what I want to be doing, but it may make things easier for me, soon. It’s better to be prepared, than not.

I had also wanted to read back over my Reference & Information Services texts. The issue is that there are three hundred pages in one text (of 800+ pages) which we were left on our own to read. I think I skimmed them, and that’s being forgiving about it.

I have read enough of Conducting the Reference Interview, 3rd Edition that I’m feeling relatively confident about that. The thing is, I have another book, Online Searching, that I started and then didn’t even try to get into, because I needed to read Conducting the Reference Interview, first. It doesn’t help to be able to find information if you’re answering the wrong question. Conducting the Reference Interview is about trying to figure out the real question someone is asking, or the “question behind the question.”

If you’re wondering about the last few posts…I’m still trying to figure out how to fuse technology with humanity. There’s a big question as to whether I’ll even be able to tolerate fitting reality into a system like Library of Congress Classification or Dewey Decimal Classification…the systems are just imperfect, but so far they’re what we have (aside from BISAC, which I don’t know much about).

I do like working with Metadata. I’ve reached the point, though, of knowing that there’s so much more I could be doing with my life, than Cataloging things.

It’s also known that a lot of places are shrugging off the Cataloging work onto vendors or other entities before they reach the libraries of destination. At the place at which I work now, for example, relatively little Cataloging is done in-house. While I could work for Publishers or vendors, I know relatively little about that (I didn’t do a Publishing internship in undergrad, so I’m not entirely familiar with the territory).

Aside from Cataloging or Metadata Librarianship, the two other specific jobs with “Library” in the name which I have been thinking of are Virtual Librarianship and Adult Services Librarianship. It looks like it will be easier to aim for the latter at this stage of the game. The difficult part for me is likely to rest in dealing with people breaking policy (which is why I’ve been doing the reading I have); the rest of it, I think I’m prepared for.

Anyhow. History, eh?

That…that could/would be fascinating and awesome. I could build my knowledge as a Librarian and then go for a PhD and professorship, or work in an Academic Library as a History Subject Specialist.

The big thing about Academic Librarianship is that you apparently get one shot at gaining tenure, and if you don’t, you’re out for good (or so I’ve been told).

Stressful, much…

The thing with History is that history that has actually happened (as versus propaganda, I mean), shapes the world we live in today. History has an impact on what things are happening, now, and how we think, now. Knowing the context of today is vital if one wants to liberate oneself from the traps of a lack of awareness (which do extend down to the languages and concepts we work with).

Okay, so I need to finish the Defusing book, get back to JavaScript, fill out my Master Application, and break into Online Searching. That sounds like enough, for now.

career, LIS, self care, spirituality, work, writing

Grounding myself, collecting my thoughts.

I have been hesitant to get back on my computer, recently. It seems I’m getting less narcissistic, though something that came up in the composition of this post is purpose.

After having gone through an online Master’s program, I’m increasingly valuing my time away from the computer, and questioning how much computer use is ideal in my life. It’s why I accepted the offer of working for a Public Library just recently, in a Public Services capacity. This is as versus putting more energy into Web Programming.

I’ve learned a good deal about the psyches of my co-workers, and actually, even though people can be irritating at times, getting to know their personalities and why they like (and dislike) what (and whom) they do, is interesting. As well, the difference in worldview and outlook between lower-level support staff through paraprofessionals through professionals, is interesting. Although I don’t think I would get a PhD in Psychology, I’m just becoming more interested in the inner workings of people, as versus machines.

Maybe that’s a reason I became interested in the Humanities, in the first place. Way back, it was just easier for me to experience others through writing, than through interaction. I think I’m getting better at the latter, though.

If I were thinking about things in an alchemical sense, I believe math, logic, programming, and philosophy would be related to an Air element, while what I’ve been doing recently — with writing by hand, and dealing with crystals (which has gotten me interested in geology, chemistry, and physics again) — is likely related to the Earth element. For a very long time, I have had severe problems with grounding…or, in other words, I lived within my thoughts more than I lived in the external world.

In a case like this, avoiding the computer for other projects — like reading physical books (which I’ll have to do, as a Librarian) — it’s a step in the direction of reconnecting with physicality. I actually can say that’s pretty important, even though for me, it’s difficult.

It shouldn’t be: for almost all of recorded history, there was no Web to addict people, or to virtually replace peoples’ lives, or to escape into. But for most of my life, I’ve heavily depended on my intelligence, whether that was my intellect or my sense of spirituality. I also know that I need to continue reconnecting with physicality…like by helping more with food preparation, and getting out and exercising. And, maybe, dealing with friends, or with people I would like to be friends.

It’s possible that having an impact on my environment — via my work and via my social experiences — is helping erode the need to “publish” (or write with the goal of readership) all the time. Connecting better with my body and having greater self-knowledge, is likely another reason I find myself becoming more invested in offline life. I’ve been basically tied to the computer for two years…it’s probably not surprising that I don’t want to be on it all the time now, when I don’t have to be.

On top of that…there is, as I’ve mentioned before, risk to writing online. Well — there’s risk where it comes to anything online, really. At the point one realizes this, the question of purpose arises…why, that is, would I share parts of my experience online? And does the possible fulfillment of that purpose outweigh the risk? How much of it is social, and how much of it is purpose-driven?

On one hand, I know that I write to share parts of my life with others. Being able to explain what’s going on as it’s going on, both helps me remember what happened, and I think also has a normalizing effect on the situation and others like it (or at least, that’s the intent). I do believe that I started blogging, however, without a clear purpose or objective in mind. The exception is this blog, which I started as a companion to Ravelry (which I don’t use anymore).

That then turned to crafts other than knit and crochet, like sewing, beadwork, lacework. Over time, it then shifted to commentary on what I had to do for my school and my job, instead of what I did with my free time.

I see my free time decreasing in the near future, and moreso later, especially if I get a full-time job. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But it means that I’m seeing I will have to let go of a lot that I did while I had the luxury of extra time.

At that point…I begin to wonder about the core parts of who I am, and what I would take with me, if I had increased resources and decreased time.

One of those things…is the pen hobby. I now have a few fountain pens, which I love. It is a luxury — one doesn’t need expensive pens to write (although none of mine are too expensive: they’re entry-level). But it’s nice to have them, even if it does mean I need to use them frequently. Using them isn’t too much of a problem, when you have a habit of writing for release, or introspection. And when you want the act of writing to be pleasant or customized — or encouraged.

The other thing that I just got back into is mineral collecting, which ties into my mystic side. I haven’t been doing meditation recently, though I should be doing it: exercise and meditation together will reduce my dependence on medication, so that I have the option of going down on my dosage. I feel stable where I am; the only problem is the tendency to gain weight. That, in turn, pretty much forces me to exercise, which will further benefit my mental state.

What I have seen with this is the possibility of crafting a path which enables me to affirm my commitment to extending the time life has on this planet. I don’t believe it will be all straightforward. But it is possible to desire this. It’s also possible to pray for it, or to do spells for it. There’s no proof that will work, but maybe I have greater reach than I think I do.

There is a paradox in using materials extracted from the earth in an attempt to help heal it. The intent to use them to attempt to help the biosphere and its denizens is the reason I feel okay with it. Without that possibility, it’s just collecting; but if I’m going to be collecting pretty things, and not having a lot of time to work with them, maybe this is better than collecting glass beads. For some reason, it does soothe me.

My nature as a human is to create. It might be possible that prayers or directed energy (I don’t know how to describe it in words; all words I’ve known have fallen short) could be useful, even if the mechanics are unexplained.

I wouldn’t be surprised if other things come up in relation to my identity, as I continue to read and write privately. But it’s fairly clear that I have a motive of furthering peace, understanding and harmony, and working against hatred and bigotry. I place a high amount of value on my own integrity, which is why I work in a library system. I also realize the limitations of what I can do as an eventual Librarian, but that doesn’t mean I can’t take action in private.

In this case…it seems as though those goals — exercise, meditation, reading, writing, healing, creation — might be enough to gather around, and focus this blog upon. When I first started blogging as a youth, I don’t know that I had any unifying cause to establish the blog around. Nor did I have an evolved sense of what I was seeking online. I’ve continued in that sense for over twenty years; it’s time to take it to the next level.

I guess I’m just getting older, and thinking things through more.

art, career, creativity, fine arts, painting, psychology

Other people and their rules ;)

I think I’ve been learning some stuff about myself, particularly through the observation of workplace dynamics; and getting into both Cataloging and watercolors — and realizing what strengths each draw off of. It’s kind of instructive, actually, getting to know where people are coming from, which gives insight into why they say what they do.

One of these people is an artist, and the other is very focused on rules and propriety. Though they’re both very social, the tension between them is hard to ignore. In turn, I can see this as an outward reflection of my own tendencies (especially where it has been obvious they have each connected with and encouraged me in areas in which they specialize, or want to specialize).

I recently signed up for a Watercolor class in order to invest some time in my right-hemispherical thinking. I mean: I’ve done this for work. Why wouldn’t I do it for myself? (As a side note, it was much easier to get back to work on the Cataloging homework, after I had done this.)

A large issue I’m dealing with in my Art is the perceived need to plan, and killing spontaneity. I’m pretty sure this has to do with trying to pigeonhole and rationalize everything and make it methodical and rule-bound and systematic, which is a tendency encouraged by my study and my work. I’m trying to get away from it, though it’s difficult.

It may be made more difficult by medication which brings the rational part of my mind forward. When I was younger, unmedicated, and dealing with a couple of different diagnoses, it was much easier to be creative. Right now, though, I’m trying to work through a block, which makes it hard to even sit down to paint. I know I could be doing other things with my time, on which I would get more of a monetary return…but then the question is, does everything in life have to be directly about money? Or business? Or survival?

I guess that’s what a semester of Microeconomics will get you. That, in turn, descends from a dream of being able to make a living doing what you love. Making money off of what you love means monetizing it; meaning either you’ve gotta get creative and you’ve gotta have a lot of hope, (or be married or independently wealthy,) or it’s probably not going to happen.

Or, I could just be negative on this point. What I see is that being a professional artist entails a lot of risk — more risk than I’m willing to bear. From what I hear, it’s also hard to repay art-school loans, because of low returns after graduation.

Then there’s the question of why I wouldn’t invest in myself and my own happiness, and what I want to do in my life, besides work. It’s kind of obvious why I would want to take a watercolor class, because I could use assistance in restarting. However, I don’t think that community college is the way to go, this time.

For one thing, I’ve already gotten an AA in Art…though I could take higher levels of Watercolor and get back into Drawing, I’m not sure of the use of that without access to upper-division and Master’s levels of work. There’s also the question of where or how I would use the skills, which makes the cost of tuition seem unreasonable. In addition to that, I haven’t heard anyone say how much they appreciated art school (not community college, but art school); the ones I’ve known (college instructors) seem to think that it put in too many barriers between them and what they wanted to create.

I know that in my case, there were a lot of personal preferences passed down from my instructors’ instructors, that got emplaced as gospel for the entire class…which started as just one person’s personal preference. I mean, I heard a lot of stuff (I’m paraphrasing, here) like, “paint from life, not from a photograph,” “always paint the edges of your canvas,” “loosen up,” “what are you afraid of,” “don’t make sketchy marks, find a line and commit to it,” “don’t draw anime in that teacher’s class,” “don’t use opaque white in watercolors,” “draw the entire image at once, not one section at a time,” etc.

To people who know what the art-speak above means, it might be seen as helpful, even if just because it’s culturally ingrained; however, what is unhelpful is the fact that your students (especially at community-college/lower-division undergraduate level) may not understand that art-speak; and all these rules that you’re giving them, should they take them to heart while not understanding them; why you said them; what you meant; what the history is behind what you meant; or how to do what you’re asking them to do; are likely to impede what would otherwise be their natural growth. Growing on their own may cause them to shed what you see as bad habits, in the future, by themselves. But your discouragement and insistence that they be masters now, risks freezing their process so they never reach that point.

This is in addition to all the would-be teachers on the Internet who have their own opinions and angles and judgments of other peoples’ work and process and why theirs is better (and, likely fortunately, I can’t remember what I was referencing, here — other than minor incidents). The issue is that if you take everyone’s opinions to heart, you just basically can’t do jack without doing it in some way that someone will call wrong, and you would accept it as wrong, because you’ve already decided to let those peoples’ self-serving opinions override your own judgments of quality. So then, taken to an extreme: if you internalized every criticism someone leveled on process online, you couldn’t ever do anything “right.”

Giving a list of forbidden practices instills a sense of inferiority in someone who is just trying to help themselves develop. There is a case for pruning back bad habits, but you don’t prune a sapling back until it’s a stick and expect it to flourish (though sometimes it happens, if you get one with enough life force).

And doing things, “right,” or, “according to the rules,” makes some people feel safer. As in Cataloging, which is an extremely regimented method of making sense out of content, with the dual aims of access, and uniformity. My coworker who is apparently into Cataloging has expressed a fondness for rules which I don’t share, except when they allow me to shift the blame of enforcing a rule (which I didn’t make) off of myself, onto Library policy. (Bureaucracy at work…)

An example — an easy one — is the question of whether motor vehicle accidents would still happen if everyone followed the rules of the road. Most people do, most of the time, which is probably why the roads aren’t more full of carnage. But there’s an assumption that if everyone followed the rules, no one would get hurt. Is it true? I’m not sure. (What I can be sure of is that it’s a good thing that most people follow most of the rules, most of the time, because it makes things largely predictable, except for the errant vehicles which pop up on a daily basis…)

Then there’s the question of whether some rules are justified, or impact certain groups more than others. For example, the question of whether two people of the same sex can marry, which disproportionately affects non-straight people; or the question of whether abortion is ever a morally justifiable option, which almost exclusively affects women (I say, “almost,” because there are female people who do not consider themselves women, and there are men who were born with female anatomy, who can still carry children).

In other words…questions of right and wrong are being brought up in my life, right now, I suppose. It’s clear to me that I do consider myself a very ethically integral person, but I also know that sometimes ethical integrity means breaking rules (as rules aren’t always neutral, beneficial, or morally justifiable; they’re just rules). Dealing with the Art, and the avoidance of the Art, along with observing the psychologies of my co-workers, and dealing with the possibility of becoming a Librarian, is bringing this up for me.

Though I’m pretty sure that systematizing my thought isn’t something that I want to aim for, at this point. After all, I’m not a machine…

Business, career, craft, libraries, money

Making a living

It has been about 7 months since I earned my MLIS. I’m also now in the last of four short courses I’ve signed up for, in hopes of bolstering my Cataloging abilities.

The short version of the outcome of this is that I now know not to become a Cataloger in an Academic Library setting — at this point in my life, at least. I think that the way my mind makes sense of topics is not in line with the way Library of Congress Classification (LCC) works. Of course, not doing as well as I could have, could also be related to either carelessness or lack of familiarity with both the examples, and the Schedules. I believe there is a lot of truth in the latter.

Also, taking classes online kind of precludes collaborative learning, and asking questions as they arise. The good thing is that I now know what to expect, and I realize we were doing the hardest questions we could have done — the hard way. And…there was only one right answer to most of these problems, due to the fact that the test was using a True/False algorithm. Therefore, these questions weren’t weighted heavily, and I got out with a relatively decent grade.

The other good thing is that all the material required to reference as regards LCC is available freely, online. I also have copies of our texts and bibliography, so I have a base from which to explore further, if I want to. Which…I’m not sure about.

I’m pretty sure I want to get back to language learning, and my tech courses.

Last night I was up making lace, instead of working on anything that required intellectual effort. There is something to be said for figuring things out based on the space they take up, the direction in which they’re being held, their method of construction, and solving physical problems with fine motor skills. I just looked up the term, “haptic reasoning (‘haptic’, meaning, ‘relating to touch’),” which is closest to what I would call it, but I don’t think anyone else calls it that. :)

I should also note that I believe, at this point, that skilled manual labor (particularly where it comes to crafts) is one of those things that isn’t highly rewarded in the current U.S. economy. But I’m not sure about that assertion. (“Believing,” is not “knowing.”) I currently live in an area with one of the highest costs of living in the world (where a lot of people are being priced out and forced to disperse)…so I suppose it may be possible to do this as something other than a hobby, and survive, in other places.

Though I have an inkling that a lot of the stuff I do has been afforded (in the sense of “being an affordance,” or a choice made possible by the structure of the system) because of communal ways of life in the past. That could be in marriage and family relations; that could be working as part of a tribe. But if you’re dealing with capitalism and an individualistic society…where you’re totally depending on yourself to feed, clothe, house, and care for yourself…and what you want to do is craft, I don’t presently see it as a great situation.

Then again…I haven’t tried selling my beadwork on a massive scale, yet. But even if I did, as I mentioned; this is expensive to get into, it’s expensive in terms of time (looking at opportunity cost, or the cost of doing one thing when you could be doing another). Design work is probably the biggest use of time I have, as regards this — not construction, even though construction is an integral part of design for me. There’s also record-keeping and research, and materials acquisition…and the fact that small-business owners can spend upwards of 80 hours a week, establishing and running their businesses and markets.

Then, there’s reaching a broader audience than possible with craft fairs (the fair circuit requires a lot of travel), by going online. I had been looking at venues such as Etsy, and Amazon Handmade. Amazon takes 15% off the top of all sales (or did, the last time I checked), which is basically a really big chunk of the maker’s profit (which, as best I can remember, may be supposed to be all of it), and will drive up the cost of production and distribution.

Etsy is more in line with what I do, but the thing about Etsy is that price competition from overseas labor (where countries are working with labor or land economies, as versus information economies) also can drive sales prices down. That means that it may not be possible for someone living in an information economy to make enough money to make a decent living off of skilled manual labor, because prices are being undercut by companies based in places with lower costs of living.

Right now, I’m trying to temper the handcrafting work with information work. If I can be my own Web Developer, and in turn also develop websites for others, there’s some chance of success. The drawback, then, is being responsible for everything, including the chance that one’s systems and databases may be attacked — and most companies which experience data breaches, it is said, go out of business. That’s after having invested into their own companies. It’s a lot of risk, not to mention a reason to incorporate (which allows one to keep their own personal assets, even if their company folds).

There are a few (hypothetical) ways out of this that I can see: one is to sell designs, rather than selling finished jewelry, so one can focus on the design process exclusively, instead of materials acquisition and construction (which can get tedious). Another is to do this work as a hobby on the side while one brings in primary income via another means (as I’m trying to do with Librarianship, and/or eventually Web Development). The third is to marry and have one’s spouse bring in the primary income, leaving one free to work (I’m not betting on this). The fourth is to live with a group (of family, friends, housemates, etc.) and meet financial requirements (rent, etc.) cooperatively, which I’ve known a lot of people to do (and which is an option on the table).

What I’ve been hoping to do is to deal with the Librarianship as my primary mode of income, and work my interest in crafts into my job. This will, at least, allow people who can’t afford to get deeply into — say — beadwork, to be able to get a respite from the grind.

So in any case…right now I’m looking at working more with people, in a Public Library setting, more than working as a Cataloger. Because of this, it makes sense to learn (or solidify) a second language, and to deal more closely with honing my interpersonal interaction skills. To further the Technical Services angle, I can try and get back to my Web Programming courses…at least, after this next course ends.

I think it will be a relief.

career, craft, creativity, fiber arts, jewelry, self care, work

Despite it: what do I *want* to do?

Hmm. You know, the question of what I really want to do has come up over the last few days. Not what would be profitable to do — but how I want to spend my time.

I think my life is becoming more clearly divided between work, professional development, and leisure…where I didn’t really have anything to compare “leisure” to, before. I wonder what it would have been like if I worked for years before going into University.

Most likely, to be honest, I probably wouldn’t have made it through (unless I went through Community College first to maintain my study skills), but aside from that, it would have helped me to have had some work experience. That way, I could actually tell what kind of work I was interested in (and where I could be hired), in Undergrad, and aim my major and studies accordingly.

Still — I would not have likely ended up with as much education as I have now, because I would have had practical experience of life outside academia. I also might have been able to take a more direct route to a career. But that’s me looking back at my 18-year-old self from about two decades into the future. I suppose it’s easy to have regrets (or “regrets”), and to see where things could have gone differently.

So many of those early decisions powerfully affect what comes later, at least if one allows them to. For instance, I shunted myself out of a career in the Hard Sciences early, by opting not to take University-level Math. This placed me squarely in the Social Sciences and Humanities, which happened to be where my then-current interests lay. However, those interests were influenced by never before having had the opportunity to learn these things, and also by an early experience of unexplained dysfunctional social dynamics.

In any case, not everything I do (at least, now) has to be marketable, or something I plan to or can make money on: writing is an example. Yes, I had an undergraduate major in Creative Writing, but that decision affected two years in my early twenties. Ironically, I didn’t know much about myself, then. It shouldn’t define the rest of my life.

I think that up until now, most — if not all — of my time was primarily focused on academic pursuits and work. Right now, I’m not in college anymore (for the first time in years), and I have the hope of a higher-paying career, which won’t require me to have a second (or possibly third) job.

Earlier, I was reading and realized how much easier it was to take in information than to put out information. If I do this Librarianship thing for real, reading is much more important than writing. Like, way more. Writing does help, but unless I work in an Academic Library, publishing probably isn’t a huge pressure. If I did work in an Academic Library, it’s unlikely that I’d be asked to write fiction.

Out of this, I realize that it…likely is okay for me to do what I want to, with my free time (apart from work, reading, and Professional Development). That includes crafts, and it doesn’t have to include Illustration, regardless of whether or not I got a degree in Art.

All of this has been wonderfully enriching, but it doesn’t mean I have to hold to the same pattern for the rest of my life. I know that I appreciate the arts; I also know that I appreciate well-crafted writing. I found community in Art; from both of these pursuits I’ve learned how important it is to me to have creative output. It’s basically really hard for me to live without making things. Without records, the days run together, and I lose track of what has happened — which is a major underlying reason for my own blogging.

The thing is, my career path as it stands now is not exactly a creative one. I don’t, however, have to make all my waking hours about my job and my career — right now I still have space for free time. Assuming success with my job and career, there isn’t any need for what I do during that free time, to be profitable.

So, I finally was able to begin practicing tatting, the other night. For those who haven’t been following this blog, tatting is a form of lacemaking. And…I do think I’ve earned enough time to be able to do something that’s just about me, and not about money.

The beadwork I had been doing, had been migrating from being a pleasurable pastime, to being a microbusiness…and I’m not thinking that my designs come quickly enough for that work to be decently profitable. Of course, I can still teach the designs to others…

For that matter, I might become capable of teaching other creative pastimes, without the need for those pastimes to be commercially profitable.

As for writing, and the whole graphic novel thing…I shouldn’t force it. It’s been a very long time since I’ve written any fiction (actually, I believe Christmas was the last attempt); right now, I’m angled more towards nonfiction. Essays. Blogging. I also haven’t been drawing. While it’s attractive to restart the latter, drawing an entire graphic novel is very different than just doing one-off sketches. A graphic novel requires drawing much more — including things one doesn’t want to draw, or possibly see — than making images in general.

Right now…there are still a lot of things I want to work on. The two things I have wanted to work on today — other than logging this — have been practicing the tatting, and working on the blouse project I left off of. There is also the embroidery issue, which I’ve been dealing with for years…I’ve just been wondering what I could make for myself that includes such. (That I would wear, I mean…)

It is true I do have a lot of beads. I also have a number of designs to try out…but I shouldn’t push myself to work on them, too hard. They’ll be here. And right now, I’ve invested more than I would get back from sales. Maybe I’m making it too hard for myself to get back to working on my beadwork, by giving myself too many options, going through too much to set myself up in hopes of success. I’m not just forging ahead without a thought to the future, which, ironically, is likely a much more productive stance in the short-term.

I’m also planning on seeing through these last two courses. Maybe after those are over, I can deal with producing jewelry to sell (though I highly doubt that, if I got a full-time job, or even a part-time job in a higher position that required training and study, I would have enough time or energy to deal with it, either). I suspect that…given time and a lack of pressure, I will likely go back to it.

Right now, though…I want to try and deal with the fiber work, and the sewing. I don’t know why. But I suspect that cross-medium capability in micromacramé, lacework, embroidery, and beadweaving together, could lead to something really nice. I’ve seen examples of the beautiful things that can be made with beaded lace…which is obviously very distant from me, right now. But it’s enough to help spur me on. The thing is, I’m not sure how much time I would have to explore these things, if I were producing work for money.

I think that’s the real issue. Time, and allowing myself the latitude to explore.