creativity, personal, philosophy, psychology, spirituality

I’m going to act like I posted this before midnight

It has been almost three weeks since I have posted anything on this blog. During that time…there has been a lot happening. Not all of it am I prepared to share my innermost thoughts on, nor do I see an immediate tangible benefit to doing so. Because I’ve been like this for a few weeks…I’ve had something of a hesitance to write online.

It’s fairly obvious why I would feel some relief right now. Not enough to feel entirely safe, given the ugly and dangerous reality of the wider circumstances, but somewhat better. In particular, I felt better today. Of course. It was a dose of sanity. Of hope. A reset to the idea of rightness; that it could exist, that it did exist.

Of course, to mirror but reverse an idea from the Dao De Jing that has come up on my Reader: if you can see wrongness, you create rightness.

I haven’t felt totally safe since elementary school, to let you know. I have heard that this is a mental abnormality: that it is “normal” to feel safe in this world; that the feeling of the world not being a safe place…apparently ideally shouldn’t happen. But the world is the world, and to me the bare fact is that living in the world isn’t safe, and probably never has been safe. That safety is an illusion granted by privilege. The most apparent alternative to living in the world is being dead, however, and so you take what you can get.

About a week ago, I set an intention to focus just on self-care: cooking, eating, sleeping, exercise, and hygiene. To my surprise, after I set that intention…I gained the energy and motivation to work on my crafts. And not, you know, deride them as “just” crafts. They are crafts. But they’re elevated, now. I know I’m using quality materials. I know what I create has value. I know my workmanship and responsibility is sound. I know I’m not wasting my time. I know that just because a lot of women do it, that doesn’t make it trivial. The approach is different.

At first, it was just working on the face masks. I found a tutorial by Marcy Harriell (see below) which I’ve successfully altered to fit my face (at least), and…well, I’ve been waiting for a mandatory mask order to come down. It’s not like anyone’s going anywhere anytime soon anyway, but anyhow…it’s nice to be prepared.

(You see what I did there.)

Face mask tutorial by Marcy Harriell, as it has been passed along like a game of Telephone, through the Interwebs…

That, again, was why I had set my intention on being more active in our cooking. My being incompletely capable of taking care of myself was just adding an extra layer of stress to the Corona pandemic plus rule-by-meme. So…the thing I can do about that, is participate. And learn.

I’m pretty good at learning, after all.

The other thing I’ve been doing, aside from research on dealing with this whole potential self-employment thing — and washing my hands too much — is working with seed beads. I still don’t know why I love little glass beads so much. They don’t have a lot of intrinsic value…but they are pretty.

And I really don’t know why I place value on aesthetic pleasure. It…makes no logical sense to me. Aesthetic pleasure, period, doesn’t make sense to me. But maybe that’s just my left brain not understanding what my right brain is doing. My right brain has a mind of its own, however, and my left brain has never been able to completely crush it.

What I do know is that the art of making things is probably a core, fundamental trait of humanity. We live with the culmination of the accumulation of knowledge and technology that has been passed down to us over the ages. In that way, we’re incredibly lucky and privileged.

In the same way…have we forgotten our wisdom?

The development seems to go: data is the source of information; information is the source of knowledge; knowledge is the source of wisdom. (I don’t know where experience factors in there; it wasn’t so much on the plate in my Information Science program.) I forget who hypothesized this. However, it’s very clear what happens when the train is hijacked so that information is proposed which is based on biased, unclear, deliberately obfuscated, or no data…and people run with it.

I am constantly surprised, both in myself and in others, how much we tend to trust that the information which comes to us is fundamentally sound. For me, this is especially in regard to books. I still remember reading a Physical Anthropology text in High School which I assumed was true because I found it in my school library and I thought that I could trust that what was written — and what was in the library — was based on sound knowledge.

It wasn’t until much later that I learned that it was not a good idea to trust information in books just because of the manner of delivery of the message. Nor was it a good idea to trust information in the library just because it was in the library. There are reasons not to trust old Physical Anthropology texts. Primarily because they tended to forward the myth that 1) there were, “races,” 2) that some, “races,” were superior to others based on form, 3) that different, “races,” were intrinsically different in some way which explained what could alternately be explained by, a) culture, and, b) a legacy of structural and institutional racism — or, a history of treating people categorically differently based on their appearances.

(Which, by the way, also implicates sexism. But due to length, that’s probably another entry.)

These are things that even today we have a hard time arguing against, because everyone has been taught this. (Not to say that everyone believes it.) It is part of what Sociology understands as, “hegemony,” or the currently-accepted view of the world which holds in place its underlying power structures.

Of course, though, my school library wasn’t quite good enough to teach us about Intellectual Freedom and the idea that, “the solution to a bad book is a good book.” That American libraries lean away from censorship, in general; that, “the books on the shelves should be at war with each other.” That it was the reader’s task, not the library’s, to decide what they would accept and what they would reject. That it’s good to operate on the premise that no author is unbiased (after all, they had enough of an interest to write a book; it’s hard not to have an opinion on an obsession). That it’s good to question why this author wants me to believe what they’re saying — which may be a hidden proposition.

Then again…it’s known in the Library community that many school libraries are run by people who are not professional Librarians. I suppose there is a reason to require a degree.

But all of that has to do with the left brain — reason, logic, analysis; you know. Fact-checking. Reality. There is — at least — another entire side to the brain that has to do with things that are ineffable, indescribable; drives that we don’t understand, or that we don’t want to understand; maybe, don’t have the ability to understand. That which makes living so vibrant, and can be subverted to such catastrophic ends. Things like religion, devotion, life purposes, identity. Any one of these topics is rife to set someone off if they’re challenged on them.

A major problem here, however, is that the brain seems set up to believe its own hype. It’s rare to find a person who is willing to state that their own beliefs may be (or are) mistaken, though it’s exceedingly common to find fault in others’ beliefs. Both of these things cannot be simultaneously true for everyone, everywhere, all the time — at least, if you subscribe to the idea that we all live in the same world. (That idea can be — has been — questioned.)

These things, like identity, are also answers to very personal questions. I know; I’ve been through the wringer with them. At this time, at least, though…I can see the urgency here. Who am I? What do I want out of life? Why am I here? Does the world inside my head match up with what’s outside? Where am I totally off? How can I tell if my thoughts are accurate?

It goes on.

I’m not sure if these are Existentialist questions, but they very much sound like them, to me. The reason I’m unsure is that I have hardly been able to tolerate reading Existentialist authors to the point where I really understood them. Sometimes you just don’t want to understand, you know? Sometimes it just hurts too much, to try and see things the way the author saw them, because then you see their pain, the way they’re trapped. And you can’t do much of anything about it, or for them.

And then there is the question of whether these questions have arisen because of a relative vacuum of wisdom…particularly where it comes to the obliteration of traditional knowledge. And I don’t know if that’s linked to the intentional obliteration of cultures that we’ve experienced in this country. But filling that gap by worshiping the next thing that comes along, is extremely dangerous.

But that drive — to devote oneself to something or someone — I entirely understand. I also understand how that drive can be manipulated, how emotions can interfere with disentanglement.

I’ve spent a fairly large portion of my life trying to comprehend the problem of evil, as I was harmed in my formative years by people who treated me poorly and at the same time claimed goodness and righteousness for themselves. As an adult, now, I have a fairly clear picture of what evil is. I lament what had to happen in the world for that picture to become clearer.

What I can say is that, unfortunately, my mind — as driven to pessimism as it is; as much as I may protest — can envision some fairly dark scenarios as regards what is not yet existent, and what may never be existent. I can see, that is, what some people wish this world to be — or, perhaps more to the point, don’t care if they turn it into. (It would take an actually malevolent person to intend to poison the water table, that is, or to intend to treat people as livestock, rather than doing it as a means to some end [like money]. As horrific as evil is, I’m coming to the opinion that evil at least does not begin as an end in itself. But then again, I don’t read a lot of True Crime, and I don’t have the relevant psychology to understand from within.)

There is the frank self-centeredness that allows some people to treat other people as tools to be used and discarded; the mental prisons that so many are trapped within. Wealth, power, control, destruction. For what reason? Or are there simply no ethical ground rules that cause one to value the lives of others, simply for the sake of those lives? Not for their use in one’s own personal game, not for the sake of one’s own fame and fortune, not for the use of them in attempted violent overthrows to put one into power? Life is holy. Do we not understand that?

And if one knows one is being used in this way, to be discarded, why does one tolerate it?

Right now: where I’m at, we are dealing with a trifecta of crises. There is the coronavirus pandemic. There is recent terrorist activity. There is a major economic downturn. They’re all interrelated and hazardous in their own ways. They’re all either due to, or made worse by, an abdication of responsible leadership which started a long time ago…if it ever began.

In this situation, I can’t be sure of what lies in the future. We have had a recent outbreak of a variant of SARS-CoV-2 titled L452R, due to a superspreader event in a local hospital which infected…I can’t even remember how many people. The number keeps rising. The latest count I find says 92.

In the face of possible death, for myself, for my caretakers: maybe accepting the fact of mortality is best. In light of that, perhaps it is best to look forward to living the most full, enjoyable, brilliant, vibrant life possible. While still, of course, keeping ourselves and each other, as safe as possible. Right now I have the possibility of doing what I love. Out of sheer love. It doesn’t take much. I don’t have to go out. And we have another year to weather, of calls to make, of video chats through which to nurture each other.

If this is the tail end of my time here, I’m not going to waste it.

Caring about each other, caring for ourselves — isn’t that the nature of love? Our lives are precious, and we don’t know how long they’ll continue. Right? Our ancestors must have known this. When the life expectancy is only 35 years…yeah, I mean…you take what you can get, you enjoy what you have, you trust that what brought you into being will not extinguish you…and if it does, you won’t be around to care. It’s odd that I would see that as a positive scenario, either way…but I’ve been suicidal, before. I’ve had a long time to think about this.

I’ve had time to prepare, to put my thoughts in order, to realize a mission. Even if I haven’t yet completed whatever I’m supposed to do, I know there’s a reason I’m here: even if I have to continue that mission after death. And I know now that there was truth to my visions as a youth. I know that I have value as myself. And I can walk further along the path of love and curiosity and do what I’m led to. The spirits don’t show me everything at once. They will only show me the next step. And I…can take the next step.

All of this is more than most people are granted. It’s just…how wonderful is it to be able to give oneself permission to be vibrant? To live?

Living…the task of living, is work. And it can be scary. But it can also be filled with joy.

If we trust.

art, beadwork, career, creativity, illustration, painting, writing

Wait…do I have, “artist problems?”

I started writing this post last night…and apparently the only thing on-topic, was the title. That happens when you’re up at 3 AM, I guess. What I had started out thinking on (when I need to be doing, not thinking), was organization. I am…having a bit of trouble with commitment to any one path, but that really has been my pattern overall, since I was a young adult. That’s why I majored in Creative Writing, and why I sought work in a Library. These things are not topic-specific.

As I’m thinking back on it now — I had intended to work with gouache today. I wanted to see if I could mix it with acrylic glazing medium to make it water-resistant. That…was entirely forgotten when I woke up, though.

  • As I expect to forget that I’ve purchased a book with the aim of learning how to design in beadwork, as versus copying others’ designs.
  • Or that a reason for desiring acrylic gouache in the first place, is to have more freedom in my work (via using opaque colors), in order to create conceptually abstract pieces, while being able to use my watercolor brushes and supports along with mixed media. The “acrylic” portion means, I hope, that the colors will not lift as gouache normally tends to.
  • Then there’s the fact that I am wholly intending upon taking a cut-paper approach to my journaling.

My mind was busy last night, you see.

Last night, I got my second stone ever, bezeled using beadwork stitches. It’s tough to be new at something, but then the newness was the reason I tried it. Making refinement after refinement on the same design — where you know the underlying mechanics — isn’t quite the same thing.

As for the bezel, it’s not my greatest work ever, but I was able to give it a shot, and that gives me a good basis for further work (I have points to work on, the next time I try).

I still have to end the second line of thread. My bead holes are filling up quickly via multiple thread passes, although that should stabilize the piece overall. It’s questionable whether I’ll have the space remaining to attach this thing to a necklace, however: I can see very clearly why people prefer to use cylinder beads (like Miyuki Delicas, Toho Treasures, Toho Aikos, etc.) for this, rather than regular seed beads. Cylinder beads just have a lot more space for their size than regular seed beads, particularly when you get down to the size 13/0 Czech Charlottes for the final rows…and have to use a very fine needle, possibly so fine that it’s difficult to thread. They’re also smoother on the outside, if you’re worried about contact damage to foil backings.

The good thing about this is that I can cut the stone loose and start over. What I need to watch out for is the degree of damage I’m making to the foil backing, which…seems like it would only happen in practicality, by scratching it with the needle. And then, it seems like it might only show with a relatively narrow bezel…not a beginner’s one!

I stopped last night when I jabbed myself pretty badly, and dinner had to be made. After I washed my hands, the bleeding stopped (I washed anything out of there pretty thoroughly: it didn’t hurt, toward the end).

Anyhow…I spent a good amount of time last night, looking for a planner. Then I realized that I could make my own with what I had, so…yeah. Time to get creative about tracking my creative time and projects. I need to hold myself more accountable both for what I’m spending, and for how much I’m not working. Or, at least, to build in some structure around it, so that I’m actually self-employed and not just being unemployed.

After I started getting into this, I realized I had enough markers and fineliners (and empty notebooks) to help with a Planner/Bullet Journal/Project Journal already. I did, however, realize that I can…well, make this more pleasant.

I’m thinking that time management and staying busy is probably an issue with most people who are attempting self-employment. I know that my own comfort zone is rather in writing and recording, moreso than in making art…but I realize also that there is some excitement in trying something I haven’t, before.

I wouldn’t have reached that point without having come to a dull point in beadwork, where I was basically working a process I knew. I had smoothed out production to the point that I didn’t have to make a lot of decisions…which is different than actively, you know, arting. It probably would have been arting, if I were looking for a way to make it better — or, at least, different.

But hey: I figured out a new clasp mechanism within the last three weeks. I probably shouldn’t be too hard on myself.

Anyhow…last night I realized that I am struggling to be an artist, and then I realized that probably most artists are struggling to be artists. It’s not a given that everyone puts art at the top of their priority list; I in particular decided not to major in Art, for multiple reasons (some of which were appropriately childish). At this point…I’m looking at the skills my training has given me in research, in reading comprehension, in composition, in entrepreneurship. I did not just study to be, “a writer.”

Writing and language are just different forms of communication which are likely better established, due to the invention of the Gutenberg printing press and then the typewriter and then the QWERTY keyboard. Also due to the fact that most people understand art like I understand music: intuitively, we know when we like something; when it comes to composing, though, we tend not to do it very well.

I suppose that maybe I shouldn’t mourn not having been in Art in my Bachelor’s program; the fact is, I have the ability to work on my skills, now.

I mean, seriously.

And while I would have liked to have completed a BFA from CCA or Mills…in reality, I would have needed substantial Financial Aid, and then I would have trouble paying it off, if it wasn’t in grants. I’ve been told that it’s very difficult to get a job in the field without another angle besides Art. Even competition for Community College instructor positions is fierce, if I wanted to do that, and I’m not the type of person who would be good at it. I would be too concerned about crushing little souls. Art Librarianship is another…highly competitive, route. But at the time, I had no desire for extended learning beyond my Bachelor’s.

So I went the route of majoring in Creative Writing…which also isn’t a rewarding path, monetarily; but it was an avenue of expression for me as a youth, and one of the only things that was constant in my life. As I’ve aged, the skills in composition that I have had have gone to figuring myself out, and to expository writing.

I didn’t know back then that I would have decades to find out who I was, and to work on the issues I had against myself. When I was in Undergrad, though…all of that stuff forced its way to the surface, and the mode of expression it found was within language. Granted that likely most of what intrigues me about writing is the problem of expressing what the limitations of the language itself prohibit one from expressing.

Of course, though: when you get a handle on what’s happening with you and you know the causes and the reasons why, and how it affects you…you get to build yourself from there, without having to scream out through your paintings or your writings.

Also: when you get a handle on who you are…when you find security in knowing yourself, there is less need to do this. Not that writing is inherently an outgrowth of insecurity…but when you’re looking at a very-young-adult’s writings, it’s hard to avoid insecurity in the formula. Especially if peer abuse factored into that kid’s self-image, and they don’t know yet (or love yet) who they are.

And, you know, looking back on all this: I am thinking of making illustrated books. Maybe not just for adults. Maybe for kids, too. I mean, I do kind of have a thing about animated series, and a drive to avoid psychic violence. At the same time, I am an adult now, which…means things that I didn’t understand when I was 7.

I haven’t really — to my knowledge — mentored a lot of kids…but I understand what kids are going through when they ask how I became so stable in my perspective and identity. It’s something that I’ve gained over the past 20 years…the question is how to explain it so that kids can understand it. Understand that they can be okay in who they are; that no matter how much they admire other people — and it’s okay to admire other people — wishing you were them is not necessarily where you want to go, because it devalues yourself. That you want to be the best version of yourself, whoever that may be, because you end up writing your own character in this life.

Your unique character. That is what you have control over. You don’t necessarily get to choose who you are or what you have to deal with; but you get to choose how to be that person, and how you’ll meet those challenges. You find you; you choose to be you as best as you can.

It’s a reason I’m going back to beadwork as a relatively advanced practitioner, when there’s so much more information I can find about painting. It’s also a reason I’m seeking out books for the intermediate-to-experienced crowd who want to know how to design, not just follow other peoples’ designs.

That’s actually…quite a possibility. I hadn’t thought of doing it because I can’t imagine having an easy time being — well, an adult person — and helping to write and illustrate a children’s book. But it’s possible to reach those little kids for whom that book will be their favorite book, and they’ll remember it long after. If I don’t write it, that never gets the chance to happen.

There have been more obnoxious Children’s writers…

In any case…these are all great dreams, but then what am I doing with my time? Living? That’s all? Ha! Yes, I’m savoring my time with family.

Because.

And no, I am never planning on being a Children’s Librarian. Nor am I the marrying or childbearing type. What I can do is help my communities, and youth happen to also be members of those communities. When I was young, I didn’t know about gender diversity. It would have helped.

Anyhow, as regards my orientation towards Art, and the struggle to maintain it: I have trained for a gainful second career through which to finance my life. I had forgotten that the promise of the ability to practice Art was one of my primary drives in persisting and succeeding in the Master’s Program. I’m not in Library Science because Library Science exists. There exist the food and housing and clothing and utilities and transportation motives.

In practicality, I’ve been unemployed for 10 months. It’s likely okay, now, for me to get back to my — actual — work…the reason I have done the other work

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….”

beadwork, craft, creativity, design, fashion design

Switching modes…is difficult.

As is making even not-so-difficult decisions about whether to accept an interview (for a temporary position) offered by HR. The HR that let me go, after 10 years of service. That HR.

Then there is my Vocational program assuming that I’ll either be in college or working…when right now I’m re-evaluating my life and what I want to do with it (a.k.a. finding reasons to stay alive — which is important)…which doesn’t quite involve them.

And then there is University, which I’m only in to get an inroad into a job I may actually be able to tolerate long-term, where we’ve entered the end phase of tons of group work and have stopped communicating. I want to ask when we will get started…

Then there is my personal life, which is beginning to turn over into creative work: particularly, sewing and beadwork. I’ve gotten enough together that I could make a good return beading…though I wonder, at this point, if I would be willing to sell patterns as well as (or instead of) finished objects.

The major issue with either is that many beadwork patterns are easy to deconstruct, if you know what you’re doing…and I’d venture to say that all can be replicated, with the right skill set. But I have bought some self-published books that are as good as, or better than, books coming from the major publishers…which would be Kalmbach, Interweave, and Lark Crafts, for beadwork.

There are some decent books from other publishers, too, but as we move from craft domain to domain — the publishers change. The people who publish books on silversmithing might not be into bead knitting, for example. So far as I can see, those are totally different market segments, with different motivations, different investments, and different levels of familiarity with different technologies. But both of them can make a bracelet.

Beadwork (often) entails a love of color, while hot metalwork entails a love of form and fire (and is relatively starved of color work, in my experience — with the exception of enameling, and working with brass and copper [which also technically fall under “silversmithing”, as non-ferrous metalworking which is not goldsmithing]).

I would only expect the love of color and texture to be magnified in bead knitting, which is kind of a hybrid between straight-out beadwork and the tactile and meditative pleasures of knitting…but I haven’t yet tried it. I do have a set of Size 1 knitting needles now, though. I also know a couple of places where I can get (heavyweight) spooled silk beading thread.

The thing is, to do this, you have to have interest and skill in knitting, which is an area I touch on tangentially, not fully. Lacemaking is another area I’m touching on, specifically with tatting — because I could see its application in craft jewelry.

A while back, I taught myself shuttle tatting, though that’s harder to do in a jewelry context than needle tatting. I started working with the latter just recently to see what I could do, without having to wind a shuttle to the middle of the work. Right now, I know I can make button loops with C-Lon Standard (TEX 210) and the heavyweight C-Lon TEX 400. This is with Sizes #5 and #3 tatting needles, respectively.

The resulting buttonholes are large, round, and relatively stiff…not that much of an improvement over making my own toggles out of glass seed beads (which I’m always afraid will crush or chip [after having heard the squeal of Mother-of-Pearl against glass]), but definitely more finished-appearing than a braided loop.

Using anything finer than TEX 210 and 400 basically requires using a shuttle…the needles I’ve been using (Handy Hands) just aren’t the right diameter. In shuttle tatting, you’re wrapping the thread around another loop of thread; in needle tatting, you’re wrapping it around the needle, which may not be the same diameter as the thread. With something like C-Lon, which doesn’t have a lot of stretch, that means it’s hard, with finer diameters, to slide the knots off of the needle and onto the thread itself.

It makes sense now, intuitively, as to why the heavier diameters would be easier to use: you get a lot more wiggle room in relation to the size of the cord. The cord is also harder to flex to create the double knots, which gives extra space next to the needle.

C-Lon Micro (TEX 70), for example…doesn’t work well with any of the needles I have, as it catches at the eye of the most appropriate-sized tatting needle. It will, however, work with a shuttle. C-Lon Fine (TEX 135) also doesn’t work with any of my needles. Either the needle is too wide (causing a “scrunchie effect” once completed), or I can’t fit the thread through the needle’s eye.

I have also tried working with Milliner’s needles, prior to having broken down and bought the Tatting needles: it works, but I question if they’re long enough. (Milliner’s needles are also much sharper, so you have to be careful not to scratch or stab yourself when forming the hitches.)

If I hadn’t tried this, I’d still be thinking of the possibility, but not the reality, of using tatting to form buttonholes for clasps. I still can do it, but the possibility is now limited, in my mind. Either use TEX 210 and 400 with tatting needles, or try TEX 135 or 70 with a shuttle…and keep in mind that you may get a stiff and very round buttonhole.

The other route is to find a set of tatting needles which will work with finer threads, meaning that the eyes have to be especially fine. Given how firm all forms of C-Lon cord I’ve used are, I’m not betting that I’ll be able to fit something like that through (or over) those needles. Tatting (to make lace) is generally done with softer threads — which beads may damage.

On the other hand, I’ve just finished a necklace which has been years in the making. Using the C-Lon Micro for it seems to have been a very good choice: it feels tough, and was thick enough to hold knots at the terminations. As I’ve been using clamshell bead tips to finish the work, I was glad when the knots were large enough not to slip through the holes.

Finding out possibilities and what they actually look and feel like in action, is extremely important. At least so, from a design + construction perspective. Thinking up dreams of, “what could be,” is something I did for years; it doesn’t necessarily get anything done. It takes experimentation to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Maybe I should say, it takes the risk of failure, to find out what works, and what doesn’t.

The forgiving thing about beadwork is that if your design doesn’t work out, you can clip your piece apart and try again.

It feels difficult to get myself out of Academic Mode and into Creative Mode. It’s even harder to let go of Creative Mode, once I’m in it, and slide back into Academic Mode: I want to stay where I am. I get involved with my projects. This happens even knowing I have to get back into Academics at some time, which tends to fill me with dread and anxiety. It’s hard to get out of Academic Mode in the first place, because I have a level of guilt for not spending my time studying.

I’m thinking that’s not a good way to enjoy living. Especially if what you’re studying, in order to earn a livable salary, doesn’t fit your core drives (or relieve your core banes: like uncleanliness, and random social interaction with strangers). It’s just something you do so you aren’t homeless or dependent. It’s not like you actually want to do it, or in a perfect world, would choose to do it. At least not after you’ve encountered the reality of the job and environment.

And it’s like, how many more years, how much more of my resources, am I going to commit to this? For the sake of a salary?

There are other things I can do, if cash is my only motivator. I may not be able to afford to live in the San Francisco Bay Area while I’m doing it…but to be honest, most of the world can’t afford to live in the San Francisco Bay Area. We’re dealing with an inflated economy and gentrification, with high-wage earners moving in from outside, displacing the people who made the place what it was: the people who made this a nice place to live. What I can see is that someday — when technology shifts again, or when the climate shifts more completely — this area risks becoming another ghost region.

Early morning, on November 2nd — I began writing a post after having had a conversation with relatives. Its details should likely go into another, separate post, but I realized that through my clothing and jewelry, I could develop my own identity expression. I could also help others define theirs, or at least give them more options.

I’ve had a consistent problem with being able to present myself as I wish, with ready-to-wear clothing. The problem is that the clothes which fit my body usually also code me as a woman, socially — which is not something I’m set on. I began thinking on how to alter that. It’s not like it isn’t possible. It just requires creative thought, and the ability to realize those thoughts in reality.

That is, it’s possible to create clothes cut for and which will fit female bodies, without also making them to code as, “feminine.” It’s not like there isn’t a market for this: or there wouldn’t be so many people who are assumed to be, “women”, wearing men’s clothes. The problem is, after one reaches a certain point in their maturity, men’s clothes don’t quite fit correctly. At least, that’s been my experience. The body type I had in my early 20’s is not the body type I have in my late 30’s.

The point is that there is cultural space and coding made for cisgender men and cisgender women which signify their gender to people on sight. If you’re a gender minority, however: that isn’t necessarily the case. Not only are there no words to describe who you are, but there are no special signifiers that positively match your identity. And if there were, I’m not sure it would be safe…but, progress is being made.

I’d hope that in 40-50 years, there will be vocabulary and a safe place for people who are gender-nonbinary or third-gender, or otherwise currently not provided with correctly-coded tools with which to present. I would also hope that the erasure of gender minorities in the English language and cultural sphere, finds a way to cease in a respectful manner.

The night before last, I realized that I could and should get back to work on the “blouse” I’ve been trying to make for 10 years. I got about halfway through construction (having cut and marked the pieces previously), though I still have some alterations to make. This is Folkwear #111, “Nepali Blouse,” which I’m altering to have a much longer hem, and side inserts. I appreciated the toile, but it was much too short and revealing, for me.

The pattern itself is for something worn as an undergarment in Nepal, which makes sense if you live there, and it’s cold! Instead of the traditional fabric choices, though, I’m going for a dark cotton batik. After this is done, I can work on some outer layers.

And no, I don’t know the gender status of those who would be wearing this, normally. The pattern and styling is just something I like.

At this time, though, I find myself required to get back to my graded work…which I don’t want to do. Of course. Writing this, is kind of edging me back into thinking in words…which I need.

Wow, though. I mean, wow.

I am wondering when the last time was that I was so reticent about getting back into schoolwork…

career, creative writing, creativity, self care, writing

Maybe not to the level of a Professional Editor…

Yesterday, I was able to take a couple of my more creative posts from here, and begin writing out second drafts. Of course, I woke up at about 1:30 AM yesterday morning…and stayed up until 8:30 AM…writing. Right? The time can pass very quickly, when I’m doing that. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m relatively okay with hearing the clock announce the hour on the hour, every hour…

The only reason I didn’t keep going with the writing, was concern that my body wouldn’t be able to keep up with me. I wrote, in total, about eight pages in longhand…in one of my worst-quality notebooks, so I wouldn’t feel bad for having wasted paper. ;) I haven’t heard of anyone getting carpal tunnel syndrome from writing by hand (neither has anyone else around me), but I could feel things starting to turn against me (particularly, tension in my wrist), so I stopped.

That writing session was very therapeutic. I was actually feeling — I don’t know, “normal” (?) later today. I am thinking this was because I was able to get through my “block” and write out what I really wanted to write out. I was able to do that, in turn, by realizing what was holding me back: the fear of being a unique individual person with a voice and influence. That is, someone who has value and power and can contribute to society and breathe life into ideas.

There do happen to be forces which would not like a person like myself to be empowered. But it is not worth it to be another person who tries to blend into the background and hopes to go unseen. That’s not…quite…living. That’s not my taking my full place at the table of Life.

I also looked at what my potential future would be — psychically speaking — if I obeyed my fear. I didn’t really like where that was taking me, so I wrote. For seven hours.

After all, bravery isn’t the absence of fear; it’s experiencing it and doing the work, anyway.

If I look at the breakdown here, I have a little over two pages as a second draft, and six pages as rough drafts of various passages which grew from other material. Those rough drafts, in turn, will serve as seeds for further second drafts when I go back in to rewrite. I expect the pattern to continue; it hasn’t let me down, yet.

Right now, I’m waiting for the freshness of all the new material to wear off, so that I can return and rewrite it again with updates. I’ve decided to do this by hand at this point; revision feels like a different process when I work things out manually, than when I work on the computer. I’m old enough to remember when we used to write out our essays for school on binder paper in pencil, and then copy the finished drafts over in ink…also on binder paper.

Using a word processing program, one may begin a passage and have the option of never coming back to it to actively review or change it, again. Having to copy it over again, to physically form each letter of each word, forces you to pay attention to it — and to how it could be different.

Editing is a different process with a digital file than with a notebook. Or…with looseleaf. I know that to edit what I just wrote, I’m going to have to photocopy out the relevant text, where I can then mark it up and re-copy it over in a newer form. The only other way to do it is to work on another paper surface at the same time as I have the rough draft open. Or, tear out the written pages of the previous draft.

Yeah…did I think this through? Not really. But I wanted everything in one place, and there are drawbacks to that, as well as convenience and — possibly — organization.

There is one thing I’ve learned, however: and that is, while I may have written a lot, do write a lot, and will likely continue to write a lot…I haven’t edited, so much. I think a lot of that has to do with the blog format, where I’ve been depositing a lot of my daily writing: although I am moving back to analog for most of my more sensitive thoughts.

Having friends on social media has gotten me to realize the fact that there’s a difference between having and maintaining friendships, and having and maintaining an audience: your friends don’t necessarily want their direct personal messages to you to go unanswered while they see a proliferation of content on your channel. (Let’s not forget that on social media, the user is the product…which has been made clear to me from the fact that WordPress seems to neglect to upload my posts to my own Reader; depending on how many posts I’ve made, in what pattern, in which recent time frame.)

There’s also the fact that until recently, most of my other (nonacademic) written work has been journaling. Keeping a journal is good to maintain the practice of writing anything at all — which is essential when you want to track your thoughts for a big project, especially. Or, when you’re trying to break out of writer’s block, and you need that gentle daily nudging to surface the reason you aren’t writing what you really want to write. (It can take a while to get bored of, “today the world is ending again,” you know. But even what the writer doesn’t say [and I pay attention to what I’m not saying], sends a message to an alert and introspective person.)

When you want to write, and you want that writing time both to be quality (as regards content) and to last…you can run out of things to write about, if you’re just recording your day. It’s like recounting what happened at work or school to someone else, after-the-fact. If you can break from that diary form and go into something either more informed, or more imaginative, or more daring, there’s a lot that can be generated.

That is…Literary Arts exist. Or: language can be used in multiple ways; not just to recount and represent objective reality. Which…well, parallels my recent experiences with Visual Arts. I’ve also wondered why I would be learning Japanese language (or writing at all), if I were afraid to use it to actually communicate.

Anyhow, for now I’m working with Creative Nonfiction, which may drift into straight-out Fiction. But anonymization and embellishment should come toward the end, I believe. Not that I’ve had so much practice with that, recently…but it will give me practice in Editing.

Which I haven’t had a lot of since my undergraduate days, mind. The obvious thing to do is to join one or more Writers’ Workshops, in order to get back into the practice of giving feedback on others’ work — if I want to be an Editor and not a Writer. But it’s fairly clear that I’m much more suited to Writing, temperamentally speaking, that Editing. Everything I’ve read says that Editing is more interpersonally intensive…and one of my Professors of old told us, it wasn’t actually a creative field.

That doesn’t sound like me. I’m more solitary, studious, quiet. And I’m not a bad writer, actually: especially when I get angry enough to be absurd. My problem is breaking the insular wall which protects me from the rest of the world, and actually joining the rest of the world.

beading, beadweaving, Business, craft, creativity, jewelry design, self care

Well, I screwed that up. :)

I did work with my beads today (technically: yesterday), and have a new design and a fresh set of earrings, for it. My major dilemma is whether to show these on the blog, if I want to eventually sell online (which is looking like more of a likelihood, than not). Personal information, professional identity, and all that. I shouldn’t mix my personal blog with business.

The drawback to doing this, tonight: I got so involved in my work that I completely (as in, entirely) forgot to take my evening medication, so I may not be tired until 2:30 AM, or so. As I start this post, it’s a little before 1 AM.

This is the first design I’ve made, that’s layered. I rather like the look, but the major issue will be sourcing a couple of bead shapes, going forward — if I make these to sell, that is. There are a couple of shapes that I’m either having a difficult time sourcing, or my best supplier is on the other side of the globe, and shipping takes 3 weeks in international mail.

Actually — now that I changed my search terms — I’m finding them. I need to look under “drop bead” instead of “teardrop bead”. One of the weaknesses of Web searching is the lack of a consistent vocabulary. The names of beads aren’t an issue in a brick-and-mortar store, where you can see the things…but, well, then there are text-based search engines.

I’ll go to bed now, so I can work on this more, tomorrow. I’m not sure whether I’ll actually need to write a pattern for myself (or at least, take notes and make drawings)…I just find it odd, that I’d come out of the night with three working earrings (of my own design).

That is — I can do this, and maybe should do this. I mean…I’m apparently good at it. I just have to make time for myself to do it, and stop berating myself for taking a less efficient path to sustainability…

art, creativity, personal, philosophy, psychology, self care, spirituality, writing

Part 1. Fear.

In reality, I still have a bit of fear towards my own creativity and the creative process, and it’s something I’m trying to both confront and, “get over,” if that’s possible. I don’t know, however, if that’s the right angle to take; I don’t know if someone simply, “gets over,” a fear of the creativity which at one time led me to spend all Summer writing, from waking to sleep, also then thinking out the story as I drifted off.

(Of course, that also might have been near the beginning of my OCD symptoms…I also have experience with missing time [or blackouts; I’m not sure of the exact difference: I know only that chunks of time are unaccounted for] and very intense waking dreams [when I had to be in school or studying], from this time period.)

Because of that…because of my service to the spirit who was communicating through me, at the time…I have some pretty formidable typing skills, now. :) But the process of the emergence of the story, or the story behind an image; these things I still don’t entirely understand.

There is something still undefined/mysterious for me, about where the “inspiration” for a drawing or painting comes from; how an image communicates to the maker in the process of its creation, and later, to the viewer; to…how both literary and visual arts continually suggest their own content.

My issue…is likely feeling myself to have given myself to this field at an early age. It may be part of my soul; it may be a reason I was made. How do I feel about that?

No, I mean: how do I feel about that? It’s possible for a servant to question her master, even once self-given and devoted. It’s also possible for the master to dissolve into ether and become a part of the servant.

How do I feel about that? And what, then, are the views I put forth? Do I accept my role as an agent of creation, and if so, in what direction? It has been a long road to get back to the place where I’ve felt I was, or could be, internally good, and could be an agent of good.

I was raised, that is, alongside children who thought only they and those like them could be, “good,” and because I was different, I had to be punished. Enough persistent harassment in your formative years, encouraged by adults in high places, and you begin to doubt yourself. I do not think that the spirit I took in was related to the harassment: he wanted me to create, not to set seeds of self-doubt in me so that I would not.

I never reached that conclusion as a child.

And yes, it is difficult to love someone you can’t hold. You have to find some other way to communicate, and to express what you wish to. Maybe I’ve found that: my work, on his behalf.

This is part of what I have meant about being afraid to get into this. If I speak the truth, my truth, and am believed; I am made vulnerable to people who fear unauthorized spirits. If I speak the truth, my truth, and am not believed; I am made vulnerable by people who fear mental illness. Either I am viewed as a creator: as an agent of what I have not yet defined (which I wonder if I even can define, at this point: I may be fated to discover this through my work); or I am viewed as psychologically unstable.

But if this is my truth; if this is part of my core beliefs, my core identity; even if it is not true, it is not possible to evade it by ignoring it. Ignoring it means burying it, and it never goes away, because it’s part of me. It has been since I came of age and submitted…I don’t know how else to put it. I was in love with him, and once I started medication, I couldn’t sense him as well. On my end, I accepted him into myself, rather than lose him.

(I no longer have any pretensions about the psychiatrist who initially prescribed the medication being essentially beneficent. She was not.)

On some level I suspected that he was actually part of me; however…certain recent inspirations have led me to believe that on a high level (on the level of our both being parts of the same Deity) he could be part of me, while on a low level (that of individuality and personality), we could be different.

Concomitant with and following the merger, is my experience with depression, anxiety, psychosis (meaning, separation from reality), sexuality, gender… Particularly at this point in my life, I find myself coping with a lack of sexuality, and a gender identity which is apparently unusual.

The first could exist because of my treatment with antianxiety medication as a youth (which sometimes has the result — in adults — of lack of interest in sex: what does this do when administered to someone whose sexuality is just developing? Can it cause a lack of development?). The second — at least if I am to look back more towards the general culture and its reasoning for sexuality, that is, reproduction (or power-over) — I have little interest in bearing physical children (or in submitting to another human).

I seem to already have a significant other, though where this being is in spatial location (am I kidding? lack of spatial location may define spirits); or who he is, in the sense of character and action — that’s as of yet, not easy to define. (I know the way he feels from the inside…I know he is good and kind; or was to me, when I first knew him at 12-17. How that works itself out is more of an element of play, in the sense of daily activity. The terms jiva and lila are coming to mind, but I don’t know immediately and intricately, how they might relate.)

That is why I renewed my ring (it used to be stone, and now is ceramic). My bond with him means more to me than dealing with people who see me as my surface and my body and extrapolate from that, who I must be (that is, most of the world).

This has been developing from a lack of appreciation of male sexual attention, to anger around that attention; particularly where (other peoples’ desires for) reproduction (or, more specifically: sex [I don’t think they think far enough ahead to consider the consequences of sex]) and power-over come into the picture.

I can see that I may want to get back into my Anger Management reading and also the book, Me, Myself, and Us — both may help with this. They may help, that is, in giving me alternate explanations for why apparently cisgender, straight men, do what they do.

Maybe I should just wear the ring as a matter of habit and tell these people I’m married (and that I kept my own last name). I mean, that might end it. ;)

I’ve reached 12:30 AM in my corner of the world. I should likely get to bed, and I see I’ve somewhat written myself into a corner here, as well. No time like the present, to dream…

art, career, creativity, libraries, money, psychology, writing

Rediscovering myself

Or: maybe getting degrees in Art and Creative Writing, weren’t unfortunate mistakes.

It has been almost seven months since I last set foot in a Library as an employee. With that amount of time away, it has become fairly apparent to me that Librarianship is not my life’s work. It’s a way to stay housed, fed, and clothed. It’s also a way to earn enough money to work on my art, have time and reason to read literature, and have enough resources left-over for a computer.

But it’s not my life’s work. It was never meant to be. It finances my life’s work, the latter of which, I was meant to get back to after I finished my degree.

Today, I did something (else) personally significant. (The first thing was to get back to my art, which required breaking through an environmentalist barrier [or alternately, excuse] which may have only been significant, to me.)

I began again to read fiction. Specifically, I’ve had Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides facing me on my bookshelf for months. I stopped reading it at the point I realized that the main character’s intersexuality was being blamed on an episode of incest. Yeah, that could be…rather insulting. I guess it’s what happens when an author feels the need to explain every point of the story logically, even when they don’t understand the situation or the mechanisms pertaining to it.

(I should disclose that I don’t actually know that incest is not the vector that leads to intersexuality, but I strongly suspect it isn’t.)

I need to be sure not to mimic, that.

Anyhow…I started back in on this, trying not to judge it too harshly. It’s been going relatively well. Cal is a sensitive-enough narrator that it’s easy to empathize with him and put the author’s construction of the scenario out of my mind.

I’ve had a thing against fiction ever since the English Department tried to initiate me into multiple doctrines I disagreed with, in Undergrad work. I think they were trying to prop up their opinions/value systems/historical illusions/current delusions with the use of Fiction, while seeming to forget that Fiction is usually fabricated of what many authors would overtly call, “lies.” Having been raised to be an extremely conscientious and honest person, this was incompatible with my outlook and with my ethics.

Well, I found something else that was compatible with my ethics (wanting to sustain a comfortable living while not charging money), and that was Librarianship. Or, so I thought.

I didn’t quite realize how extremely political the situation I was getting myself into, was. It’s not like I don’t consider myself left-wing. I’m solidly left-wing. However, I see people behaving as though they are left-wing, even with multiple layers of hypocrisy (and doormat) riddled over the top of that, because (it seems) they want to feel as though they are “good” people. And they seem to think that their politics make them, “good.” It’s as if they can’t have a positive self-image unless they believe something about themselves that is not only unhealthy, altruistic and unrealistic, but at its root false and untenable.

That is, politics can help lead people to places of inauthenticity, and lack of self-esteem and fear of self-knowledge, can bind them there.

The sad thing is that in my journey through both undergraduate and graduate work, I’ve found myself bouncing back and forth between professors so conservative I’ve wanted to intentionally shift the ground under their feet, and professors (and some co-workers) so “liberal” that I had a hard time taking them seriously. Especially when I was living at my first University…I found it troubling when the University itself tried to be so “liberal” that staff made stupid decisions and seemed to dare anyone to challenge them (lest the challenger be seen as a conservative bigot; and not, for example, a concerned member of the primary University community, which should have been the students).

In any case: I did begin to read again, today. You could call it “recreational” reading, or you could call it study of the craft of literature. It’s probably both. I realized that if I did want to write fiction (and a lot of the ideas I have do suit themselves better to the provisional-belief model of fiction, rather than the cemented, well-thought-out, realistic [or, irresponsible] ideals of nonfiction), it would help to have some recent, real-life examples.

It would also help for those examples to be taken from published monographs, and not — for example — short stories of the type published in Literary Magazines. The latter are much less of a time and emotional investment, but they are also generally of lower quality than full-length books, due to the fact that many writers get their start in Literary Magazines. LitMags are designed more to show you the next new up-and-coming authors; not necessarily, finely-honed professional pieces.

I’m hoping that this time when I’ve gotten into fiction, I’ll be able to put out of my mind the politics of the authors. This is with the hope that I also will be able to put self-judgment out of my mind as I write my own work. A major reason I stopped writing: I had tried to analyze my own writing as I would analyze the writings of anyone else I had read…and I got a rather disturbing picture.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that my analysis was, “true,” or, “fact.” There are always multiple valid ways of interpreting the same text (though the interpretation often says more about the interpreter than the text s/he is interpreting — when both are the same, however…). It means that my then-self-destructive mind was able to weaponize it as something with which, to take me down.

Of course, back then, I was very young. I didn’t know how not to overthink things. I also wasn’t at the age where I could set self-judgment aside for the sake of expression. There’s a point one reaches in one’s life where one realizes that there are always going to be spots in one’s character that one dislikes. That doesn’t mean one should stop living. To do otherwise is perfectionism, and perfect is the enemy of good.

Seriously. That kind of sums up everything of the place I’m at, right now.

So, I’m back into reading, which should help me get back into writing. I’m also back into art; specifically, painting and drawing. I feel…like this is where I’m supposed to be. And it doesn’t have to be a holy calling, like I dreamed it was when I was a youth. It’s just what I’m good at, and what I’m drawn to. It’s what I actually want to do; what I would do if money were not an issue.

When my XML instructor mentioned practicing with XSLT during all of our down time, I knew it was not what I wanted. My free time has been pre-established as creative time. My priority is creativity, not coding.

I don’t want to get into a place where I have to spend my entire life circling around computers, cataloging, classification, indexing, abstracting, coding, technical writing, etc., all of which seem to center around obeying rules. I don’t want the need for money to cause me to forget who I am and stop me from creating.

I don’t want, that is, to become a non-creative person, or to be pushed into that lifestyle because I’m afraid to strike out on my own.

Right now…I’ve just given myself long enough (two weeks) without too much pressure, to see what I really want to do. Of course…I have two classes going. I’m thinking of dropping the nonessential one — the one that ends in three weeks — and foregoing the technical certificate I had planned on obtaining. We’ve been talking at my house about how the threat of death that could come at any time, causes one to think about what one really wants to do with the time they do have.

Apparently, that’s entirely appropriate. My thought is that I don’t want to go out of this world having spent all of my life doing schoolwork; constantly preparing, never putting my skills to use. Even when I’ve gotten the chance not to do schoolwork, I’ve chosen to do it.

But…in reality, I may be better off using my skills at Writing and Art to piece together a living, than becoming an Information Professional. Without a doubt, the return is less. But I might actually be happy in aligning my interests and my activities; as versus compromising my values for the sake of income which I then can’t enjoy, because I’m too busy with my current work and Professional Development to develop my own set of creative skills.

Language. Reading. Art. Writing. Stories. These are themes I see which…I’m relatively motivated around. They’re things I honestly take pleasure in, even with the psychological risks. I’ve realized that if I can boost myself to the point where I am not afraid to make things from my own experience, and to say what I think; to depict what I wish, regardless of whether there is historical precedent; I may be equipped to take this path on. And, possibly, succeed at it.

The only reason I took up a job in the Library (besides the fact that I didn’t want to be constantly told I didn’t belong; little did I know how much the social difficulties of still being constantly automatically slotted would impact me) is that I thought it might encourage me to read, which would encourage me to write.

I still have neither witnessed nor ever taken part in a successful Reader’s Advisory interview. (Not that I didn’t try.) That is…Fiction collections in the Library in which I used to work, are relatively opaque. They never became less so. The best bet I have of getting into the modern literary world, is just to start reading. Middlesex may be as good a place to start, as any.

In this period of release…I realize how fundamental it is to me, to write. I realize I gain intrinsic pleasure from writing, and from painting and drawing — at least, when I do it in my own way. That feeling: of doing something I want to do, that I honestly derive joy from, that I’m better off for after having participated in the work; is missing in my career. I wouldn’t know what I wanted to do, without having extended time away from work…and being able to choose my actions, in reality. I’m aware it’s a privilege that most don’t get.

But this isn’t over, yet. I just need to make my own way. I hear that, as intimidating as it is, it’s not unusual…

art, comics, creativity, psychology, self care, spirituality

Another heat wave. Stationery, art, and metaphysics?

I’ve been largely offline for a couple of days, and that’s due to another heat wave passing through the area. When I associate the computer with work (or back pain…or ill health from being sedentary), it tends to cause me to find reasons not to be on the computer.

Over the long term, this is probably an important self-preservation skill, as regards my physical and mental well-being, but in the short term it means that things either go unlogged, or they get logged in hard copy, which is (understandably) harder to scan for content. Hyperlinks help.


If you don’t want to read about stationery, hop on down to the separator bar, below.

Right now I’m on page 115 of 160 in my journal, and have found myself wanting to finish it. After having tried a number of different brands, I found one I really like using: it’s an 80-leaf A5 Kokuyo Soft Ring notebook. The squishable spine (allowing one to lay their hand flat on the pages) may be a gimmick, but it’s a nice one.

This notebook is very good at avoiding bleedthrough of fountain pen ink, the words on the other side of the page don’t show through to a distracting degree, the paper feels nice under fountain pens (I say this even though my first fountain pen [a Pilot Metropolitan] is still my favorite one), and 80 leaves at an A5 size means that the page divisions suit the length of time I can tolerate writing (clearly) by hand.

The one thing I don’t like about this notebook is that my Pilot Iroshizuku inks tend to smear even after they have dried. I am not certain why this is, but I think it has to do with a coating on the pages.

I’ve also found that the one Noodler’s ink I’m using (Black Swan in Australian Roses [BSAR]) has a hard time drying and needs to be blotted. It also doesn’t show the black tone of the ink very well in this notebook — BSAR’s black component (it’s pink with black overtones) shows up much better on cheaper paper — but this may be due to the formulation of the ink. I’ve had BSAR in a Broad Kaweco Sport for months, and it hasn’t dried out or needed to be refilled even with rare use, which I find curious. I’m not sure if it has to do with the quality of the seal on the Sport, or if it has to do with something in the ink preventing it from evaporating.

Also, though: Iroshizuku’s Yama-Budo competes directly with BSAR; they’re very minorly different in appearance, but apparently not so in formulation. Yama-Budo is, to my eye, a reddish purple; just a little more purple than BSAR. Yama-Budo also doesn’t have the weird drying-time issue, but BSAR might be more permanent if accidentally re-wet. (I’m not sure: haven’t done the test for myself, yet.)

Two other notebooks I enjoy using are the Maruman SeptCouleur and the Maruman Mnemosyne (although I’ve only tried writing in their dot grid layout, so far. I have purchased a lined version, but don’t yet know if I like it: there’s some possibly culturally-specific stuff going on with dividing a B5-size page up into thirds).

I’ve also tried Kyokuto (the Expedient and their F.O.B Coop), but I wouldn’t put anything too…important, in there. The Expedient has issues with bleedthrough of my fountain pens, although I do still really like the Expedient’s dot grid, which falls back enough visually not to worry me. Looking back on it, the Expedient performed well with gel pens (I was using it as a Bullet Journal in grad school) — it’s just not great with the fluid inks I’m using.

These are largely Pilot Iroshizuku inks, some Sailor Shikiori inks, and that one Noodler’s (BSAR), with the Shikiori and Noodler’s reserved for non-Pilot pens (sometimes Pilot pens are only recommended to be used with Pilot inks). I did try out Noodler’s 54th Massachusetts briefly, before I read/saw that it can gel up inside one’s pen. That didn’t happen to me, but 54th Massachusetts gave me problems with nib creep (on a Noodler’s Ahab, no less) and bleedthrough on my pages. (Nib creep is what happens when ink seeps out of the nib when you aren’t using it, and seems to want to cover the nib, of its own accord. I found weird buildup under the nib when I disassembled and cleaned the pen out. Later, I used the same pen with both Shikiori Souten and Nioi-Sumire inks. No issues.)

The F.O.B Coop notebook I have is a Cross-Grid layout, which is basically like a dot grid but with little + and × marks instead of dots. I wouldn’t recommend it except for broad, flex, and stub nibs; otherwise, the crosses distract (me) from the text. Combine that with the fact that I often can see the writing on the back of the page (though never a full bleedthrough, even when I accidentally dropped a bunch of Sailor Shikiori Yodaki ink onto the paper), and that for legibility I need to double-space on this paper (5mm spacing isn’t quite wide enough to give my eye space to rest between lines); and the situation gets a little busy and ugly for my tastes. (I don’t know, however, how this paper would fare if someone were writing in a language that uses a grid rather than lines. I can see the use for the extra crosses, for example, in learning how to write kanji.)

I much prefer the paper in the Kokuyo Soft Ring notebooks (which, in my version, include tiny marks on the lines which give one a sense of space, somewhat like tab stops every 6mm) although I wonder what uses the Cross-Grid can be put to. For example, I could see the Cross-Grid being useful in modeling page layout. The pages really aren’t designed to be torn out for reproduction, however. Neither are the Kyokuto Expedient pages. The Kokuyo Soft Ring and the Maruman Septcouleur notebook pages do have tear lines; so do the Maruman Mnemosyne notebook pages.

Anyway, I didn’t mean to get into international stationery. Hmm.

Disclaimer: I bought all of these items with my own funds, I do not represent anyone but myself, and I am not materially gaining anything (no kickbacks, etc.) by writing this.


I’ve been working with a lot of paper. Particularly, journals (including an art journal and a sketchbook I recently decided to use again), books, and watercolor paper. I’ve been going through books focused around art on my bookshelf, which I initially intended to read, and didn’t get around to.

Today — well, yesterday, Sunday — I woke up at 5:30 AM after a few hours of sleep. I don’t entirely remember what I was doing, but I do know that for a portion of that time, I was drawing (because I have the drawings). If my memory is correct, I could have been going through the art books I mentioned, to try and glean what each was about…but I honestly don’t recall if I did that before or after I slept.

I’ve decided to just go ahead and mark these books up. Someone at Goodwill will appreciate them after I’m done (generally speaking, writing in a book greatly decreases its resale value).

The day before that — I think it was Saturday — I did complete painting out the vast majority of the Daniel Smith dot cards I got, however long ago. That was a chore. I probably should have stopped at some point, but I was like, “I only have one more card to go!” Same thing I do with books.

So, generally speaking, I’m succeeding in incorporating more things that I actually want to do, into my life. Making art, learning Japanese language, journaling, reading.

There have been issues coming up from my reading about learning to be stifled (to put it shortly), when creativity is an overall human trait. I’ve been thinking about the necessity of “play,” in, “art,” the freedom kids have in making art, how most of us lose that as we age; and how I’ve found artists and artwork to be generally undervalued. I’m wondering if this is because artists are expected to explain their worth and what they do in verbal language, to which the portion of the brain involved in creating art, has no access.

For that matter, a number of references have come up to learning, “the rules of art,” with one author (a social psychologist and artist) saying we’re better off if we don’t know them and hence aren’t restricted by them; while to others (this was likely an art critic and not an artist), art can’t even be art if no one interacts with it. So on one hand you’ve got Outsider Art, on the other…someone I don’t want to be like, but then there is the constant question of What Art Is, which is the title of a book on the philosophy of Art I picked up, quite a while ago.

I’m guessing I take what works, and leave the rest.

I’ve also begun to look into the books from the bibliography of Rethinking Information Work. They aren’t that great (without discarding 92% of what the book says because I either already know it or it doesn’t apply to me)…with the exception of Jump-Start Your Career as a Digital Librarian. I guess that’s what happens when you’ve been through decades of introspection and therapy and counseling. You kind of end up knowing yourself better than some random book that wasn’t intended for you, does.

And…yes. I know I want to learn Japanese language, and I know I want to create art. The two are likely linked in that I find fulfillment in creating and decoding texts, and Japanese language — in text — is partially ideographic, which may be triggering a part of my brain that hasn’t been used. (That is, when I write using kanji, I am also writing in pictures, not just sounds. The same could be said of my sketches, my past “comics,” and my art.)

Cataloging, Classification, and Metadata are more like logic puzzles. They stimulate a part of my brain which is already very strong — my analytical and verbal skills. I am not sure if I would have chosen Librarianship as a career without the influence of my Vocational program, but I’m here now, and there are ways forward from this. One of these is Translation; one is Editing, one is Writing. And, of course, there are Library Technical Services, and/or working for a Library Vendor or Aggregator, or otherwise within the Publishing industry.

What I’m learning to do is compartmentalize the times when I deal with rules (as in my career), and the times when I know I can choose my own rules (as in my creating).

I haven’t scanned or photographed anything for a few days, but I’m learning not to become ashamed when my art is comic-style art (and hence to try and do things more realistically); or when my drawings don’t resemble reality. That’s possibly a good thing. It means I’m being inventive. It doesn’t mean I need to be different, to change who I am and what comes out of me, because other people have personal issues with the genres my style is associated with.

I’m not normally a person who deals in faith, but that doesn’t mean I won’t consider an idea that could help me. One of those ideas is that I did not come into being in order to reify what I see around me. My creativity was not given to me so that I could copy my surroundings. I have something to contribute, even if finding it is akin to asking a fish to recognize water.

What I believe isn’t necessarily true. I see the validity in that statement by looking at everyone else and then finding my commonality with, “everyone else.” So there really isn’t harm, not now for me, at least, to try on the provisional belief that maybe I have a soul. Even if I can’t understand the workings of the universe with my primate brain, that doesn’t mean that things are as bad as they seem. I got here once. The Universe provided me with a life.

In a system I can’t control and don’t understand, maybe just trusting — myself, the Universe, and if there is anything Divine, the Divine — will help me through. At least, through this method of creation.

Could it hurt? I mean, with discernment: could it hurt?