art, craft, design, libraries, LIS, seed beads, self care, work

The importance of weekends

Today marks the last day of my first experience of working a 40-hour week. As long as I take care of food, water, hygiene, breaks, and sleep, I can make it. I really just need to care for myself, physically. It also helps to have family to help with food preparation.

Now that I have two days to myself, I’m also wondering how to spend it. Not to reference “Phineas & Ferb” or anything, but it’s a legitimate question. I have a binder full of stuff I can read, I need to figure out if I have any potential benefits, and I can review my notes.

I can also get back to my macramé; my seed beads and cord have been sitting out here for over a week (though they aren’t dusty yet), and I have a better handle on my design process, now: try different things. You won’t know what it looks like, unless you try different things. In this way, an idea develops from a rudimentary stab at embodying a concept, into multiple versions and pathways that you won’t be able to experience without seeing and feeling (and making) them in hard form.

Just thinking about possibilities isn’t going to work as well (if at all). Those thoughts are the seeds. The trials are the work; the trials are how things develop into reality. Without that, it’s all dreaming; no production, no creating.

And it is okay to work in Decorative Art. I realize that, now; and I also wonder whether the idea that it isn’t okay, is due to my Literature training (Fiction writing, I’ve found to be conflict- and message-driven), and my training in Fine Art (where we were always looking for underlying meaning behind our images).

It’s also okay to make things with my hands that aren’t pictures. Seriously. Craft is not below Art. It’s just a concept and practice that overlaps Art, though as to whether it is truly a different or separable thing (to me), is something I haven’t yet resolved. I did, however, read that most ancient art qualifies as, “Decorative,” now…I don’t know if you can know how good that makes me feel; that I’m not alone or isolated in wanting to make beautiful things.

Best-Maugard’s book, A Method for Creative Design, has helped with my design process — and I find design applies in both Art (for me right now, drawing) and Craft (for me, beadwork). I recently was able to obtain a used copy for about $25. The only drawback is that it came along with a previously unmentioned scent of tobacco smoke, and light though loving wear.

Journaling has also helped me keep track of (and account for) my own thoughts, though I highly doubt it would be as calming or helpful, if I made it to publish. I’ve noticed that I love my fine Pilot Metropolitan with green-blue ink and my calligraphy-nib Pilot Prera with red-orange ink. They kind of automatically help me apply graphic design principles to my writing, along with encouraging me to write by hand. If fountain pens aren’t used regularly, that is — and especially with those two, which I may only think because I’ve had them longer — the ink inside the converter (I’m not using cartridges) evaporates and concentrates. That’s not my goal, especially as my green-blue ink can turn almost black, when that happens.

At this time, I’m just wondering about the possibility of working 40 hours normally. Would I be able to do it? I’m hoping that I get the chance to find out. First, I have to get through this training, which will last for approximately the rest of the month. After that, I have six months of Probation…though I’m thinking everyone expects that to be a learning period.

I am glad to get out of being an Aide, though, primarily because Aide work is so physical, and I’m no longer a young adult. My body can’t handle what it used to. I also have a lot more to offer than my physical strength, and eye for detail and pattern recognition.

It will also be awesome to be able to read things that aren’t textbooks, again. And it will relate to my employment.

What I’ve noticed is that it is an almost completely different experience to serve in the Children’s Area, than it is to serve in the Adult Area…though I should be able to reflect further on that, later this weekend (I intend for it to be here, but it may not end up that way). I’ve only spent two hours so far in hands-on training in the Children’s Area…I just, well, have become in a way acclimated to being around kids from working as an Aide in a Public Library for as long as I have.

The major thing I’m thinking of is that I’ve known my share of Aides who do not like to shelve, or when they do shelve, they only like to shelve the Adult and Young Adult areas. Due to the local climate of my old library, the Shelvers were faced with a dilemma every time they worked in the Kids’ Section, which I don’t find to be of personal benefit to go into; but let it be known that I’ve found that library to be a bit unusual, now that I’m no longer there.

I’m just really happy that I get to help the kids in a way I couldn’t, before.

Maybe I should have picked up more jobs at different libraries before even applying for a position as a Library Assistant, but I’m here now. Multiple people have told me that I can’t live in the past, and just to do my best, moving forward. It applies with ergonomics; it applies with regretting not having become a Library Assistant sooner; and it applies with certain mistakes I’ve made in my history. I just can’t linger over those errors for the rest of my life; I’ve seen that happen in other people, and I realize that it keeps them from developing beyond it. Reliving those experiences over and over again for years or decades doesn’t, actually, help solve the problems they present.

My present consideration — as regards work — is whether to opt for more time on the Kids’ Service Desk, just because it’s more difficult, or whether to take the easy way out and stay mostly in the Adult section. I don’t know, that is, whether my Manager rewards risk-taking and growth (doing the hard stuff so that I can learn), or comfort and success with what’s already known (stepping a little out of my comfort zone, but minorly so; easing into the work). I might want to consult with her, on that; though I never have intended to be a Children’s Librarian.

It’s just a very, very different experience between the two Service Desks. I also know that most of the entry-level Public Librarian openings I’ve seen, have to do with Youth, Teen, or Children’s Librarian positions. I can’t do that without having experience working with kids; but, having experience in that area may qualify me for further work, there. Now do I want that?

I’ll have the opportunity to find out, won’t I? :)

As a final note, my Career person has told me that it’s hard to get a job just because you’ve taken classes in the subject. So I shouldn’t say that my MLIS was the end-all and be-all of being a Librarian; in fact, it was only the beginning, in a way that my current training is only the beginning. I’ve been told that it can take 6 months to become truly comfortable with Reference.

I…just think I am lucky to be working with such nice people. I’ve also found that there are many people around me who are in similar situations to my own.

It’s helping me.

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?

libraries, LIS, work

New job should help me know what to do next.

I realize it is late at night and I have begun to see things I shouldn’t see; however — today (yesterday, rather) — was my last day as a Library Aide. Tomorrow (or, technically, later today), I have a meeting with someone whose goal is to help me get a job. Another one…I guess. The help was offered, so I took it. Maybe I shouldn’t have…? I’m not sure. At least I’m learning how to write a resumé.

I still haven’t decided whether I would be more suited to information organization, or to Public Service. It would seem I could help more people, more quickly, doing the latter. My major issue here is that I am not really a, “people person,” though I suspect few Librarians get into the field because they are. (Altruism, however, does seem to be very common; as is introversion.)

Of course, this new job will really help me see whether I will do well in Public Service. From the initial time at which I was assessed, to now, I’ve gone through a major change in comfort level in dealing with the public. I’ve also grown to realize the limitations of interacting with the world through a screen.

I suppose it has been almost ten years.

At least I got hired as a Library Assistant before my decade marker of service to the County. It…could have been less than great, to have them announce that I’ve worked for them for ten years and that I was still an Aide (which is almost the lowest rung I could be at, if I don’t count being a Volunteer; though job titles and definitions vary across systems).

Speaking of which, I should really look for that article I printed, which surveys job titles in Academic and Public Libraries. (I think it’s in a pile of stuff on my desk, or maybe in a folder on my bookshelf, with the career stuff.) It could be useful, at least as help in getting an orientation as to what I could actually (specifically) do, having started with a Digital Services concentration. I also might want to ask the person who has been helping me, and the Career Center liaison at my alma mater.

My major issue at this point is not knowing quite where to focus my energies, because I still don’t know exactly where I want to be, yet. Academic? Public? Reference? Digital Library? Web Development or Metadata? Collection Development? Cataloging?

(Of course, yes, I now realize that most of these fall under “Technical Services”…)

Right now I’m trying to focus on Reference Services, which is a specialty in itself. However, a Library Assistant or Librarian is going to be doing a lot more than answering Reference questions…which I’ll come to know more about in the coming weeks.

I still haven’t gotten back to the JavaScript course, which I’ll likely want to, as I reported being enrolled in it to my job search people. I’ll also want to finish Defusing Hostile Customers, and break into Online Searching, though I think I’ve mentioned that, before. I can also review my text on Reference & Information Services…though I think reading through that last 300 pages is a pretty tall order. If I had been going through one chapter a day, it would be something else…but it isn’t an engaging read, and I might be able to find a simpler and more concise version of the same information.

(Note: take some of these books in, tomorrow!)

Or, at least, I’ll want to isolate myself so that I have no distractions and can buzz through it quickly. I also recall a Librarian telling me that it might be more practical to look through the resources we have in our system, as versus reading a book which cites references that we just do not have access to. So maybe I can study our Reference sources, and get into free online sources, and that will be better!

I’m also remembering something from a while back, where it was observed that I’m great at generating ideas, but narrowing my focus to one thing to work on, is itself a challenge for me. So the challenge is to focus. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to leave off of one activity in order to work more intensely with the hand I’ve currently been dealt…but, I also have a tendency to wander (I was rambling earlier tonight and may be rambling again now, for example), which isn’t good when it comes to targeted job searching.

Maybe I’ll want to work on focusing on the Reference Services part of this for the very-short-term, as it’s coming up and will be my life for most of the next month. After that, I can focus on driving (so I can be hired as a Librarian after getting my license), and finding a more permanent (more permanent, not necessarily rest of my life permanent) vocational position.

Of course, being a substitute…I’ll get to meet a lot of people and sample a lot of environments. If I can, from that, work out at least a hierarchy of where I would most like to work, I can then prepare to move into a position as a rooted Library Assistant or Librarian, as my next step. That would come with more stability in hours, job benefits, likely more responsibility (programming!), and I could log my time so that I could find a location I wanted to work at. It isn’t really until I might become senior that I would even have the opportunity to work within the Virtual Library, I think — at least, within my current system.

I’d also have a pretty broad spectrum of skills, by that point…and I would know more about where I wanted to be. Is learning multiple Web Programming languages, and staying on top of them, my best bet? Or can I work with people? Would I like working with people, if I were fully empowered to work with them? How much of my emotional imprint of working with the public been skewed by not being able to try to help our patrons as fully as I’ve wanted to? How many negative reactions stemmed from lack of skill on my part, and have I learned from those interactions? (Every time.)

That’s got to help, in some way…

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.

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.

beading, beadwork, career, design, jewelry design, libraries, personal, self care, work

Back to reality

Today was the first day I’ve had outside in a week and a half. I got to taste strange cheeses (live and active cultures? seriously, what the…), and realize that even at 170 lbs. (I’ve stabilized, here), I don’t look so bad. At least, when my clothes fit properly. And…I’m not sure, but my fat distribution may have changed a little — or the pants I just got are actually a little large. (I suppose it would help explain my viewpoint to mention that I’ve been underweight for most of my life, not by choice.)

Apparently, I had the beginnings of a sinus infection in addition to a cold, and I think the only reason I haven’t lost weight is that I drank a lot of liquid sugars in the form of juices. The medication I’m on tends to cause me to slowly gain weight if I drink more than a minimal amount of juice or soda, and then don’t balance that with exercise. This is why I’ve been trying to shift to teas (green, oolong, and herbal) and carbonated water, if not straight water (which I am willing to appreciate for its low cost and lack of calories and sweetness — I’ve actually considered drinking broth in the past, which is how much I get disturbed by the constant sweetness). However, while I was sick, I didn’t really have the energy to care. (I also wasn’t eating that much.)

Right now I’m trialing an antihistamine to see if it will fight the lingering head cold symptoms, as I’m planning on being active again tomorrow. It looks like I will be OK where it comes to sinus infections, but I hear from others that I still sound stuffy, and I have a bit of congestion. I also am a little tired, and I have a lot of stuff coming up with homework from my classes and job applications and graduation ceremonies. I hadn’t planned to be out of commission for a week and a half (I actually did get some good work done on Monday two weeks ago, before I got a sore throat on Tuesday morning — for future reference [if it is unclear] this is the second Friday night since then).

About work: having applied for a Clerk position and having seen how much they get paid, I’m feeling not so bad about having the job title I do, now. Of course, I’m in the lowest-ranking paid job I can be in at my Library, but Clerks (the next step up) don’t get paid much more (the difference is that they’re considered for benefits, and can work full-time). Right now I’m normally working 18 hours a week, which has meant that even without paid sick leave, I have enough to not worry about having been out sick for more than half of a pay period.

So, I’ve been comforted with the knowledge that I do not have to find a better-paying job immediately, because I’m already making payments on my loans (I’m just not the person that handles the legwork, there, so I didn’t know).

I’m also realizing more the concrete difference between working in an Academic Library as versus Public…and I have been told that I don’t have to study for my job interviews, though the book I just finished on homelessness and libraries was actually really illuminating. I want to deal with the Robert Bacal book next, though, because he has a different viewpoint (one focused on protecting the person who has to enforce the rules, rather than helping other people to heed the rules).

I have one more book on Public Service I can read, right here next to me. The thing is that so much of my world is revolving around libraries, at this point. I think it’s understandable that I could be reaching my limit, especially seeing how some systems take advantage of humanitarian urges. I do want to get back to my Cataloging classes (this is wholly on my own terms, as it isn’t through a University), but at the same time, I’ve already been introduced to the issues in that class, so this isn’t new. It is possible that I could play around with the Web interface, which might help more…and I should. But part of that can be homework…

I also want to get back to my JavaScript training, though this would be easier if I had a concrete goal to work towards, with which the training would help me. I don’t have that, at this point. Same thing with Japanese language — though I could be a bilingual Librarian in the future, and it might be a shoe-in if I were one of the few people who could speak and understand Japanese language fluently, it’s a lot of work to get to that point. If I learned the language for the love of the language, that’s one thing…but learning it so I can be a more effective Public Servant? Ehh?

Learning it so I can move to Japan? I’m mixed-race, and have had enough problems with that from people close to me; I don’t expect living in Japan to be easy for me, even if I did pass the JLPT to a high enough degree to be employed there. Even if I did, I’d probably have to deal with people thinking I’m “exotic” around the clock (and there are fewer legal protections for females in Japan). If I had a concrete goal — like, hey, I want to be able to read Japanese craft books — now that is something. But this kind of hazy, “I want to learn Japanese so I can understand more of my heritage,” thing, is kind of too amorphous; because for one thing, I question my motives (much easier when your family is being dysfunctional and you’ve become aware of how constant this has been).

I also really want and/or need to get back to my beadwork, though I tend to run off on some tangent about my job every time I mention it, like it isn’t important. But I have been given permission to keep buying materials as long as I sell what I make with them. That…is tempting! But I’ll make some stuff first before I go and buy more. I have a number of projects in progress, and enough basic instructions and materials to play around for a good long time. Unless I make it really different in some way that I can only hypothesize on now, it would likely be what I’ve called, “common work;” that is, stuff that anyone who has access to the information and materials I do, would be able to easily reproduce. The thing is, the bridge from common work to work that shows my own imagination, craft and skill…that isn’t so clear.

Anyhow…this comes after a while of looking for information on how to design jewelry. There are a lot of beading, “recipe books,” out there; but few which actually will teach one how to become a designer — like a person who would make a recipe book. Particularly so, where it comes to beadwork (this doesn’t seem to be as much of a problem in metalsmithing). This is something that I’ve had a problem with, for a while. I have the thought that the books on how to design aren’t out there because if people could make their own designs, then beading design books might not be as popular — or that could be what the major presses believe.

Then, there’s also the issue with intellectual property (IP) where it comes to handcrafts, which isn’t clear because of the fact that the concept of “intellectual property” was meant to protect new ideas, not to apply to old or traditional ones. While it’s clear to me now that “copyright” protects patterns, but does not apply to technique; and that if any IP concept could apply at all to handcrafts, it would likely be patent — and then in very rare cases would someone actually have the ability to enforce it. Patent itself is only applicable to novel uses of materials which would be unlikely to be stumbled upon by anyone else. The validity of the utilization of the “copyright” tool is up to the courts, and that on a case-by-case basis, taking into account a number of factors which I don’t have the space to go into, here.

So basically, I’ve had to deal with knowing I will be mimicked and with knowing that I can’t help but be similar in some way to others working in the same field with the same materials and the same knowledge base. It’s a reason why I’ve stopped posting images of my work online. There’s basically no way to protect it, and no reason to show it unless I’m selling (or trying to get name recognition). In some ways one is better off publishing through a press, because then at least one gets some return for their design work, and at least everyone knows who originated what design…and there’s no ambiguity around the question of who saw what, when. If it’s public, it’s public; and if you went through a press, they likely have a legal team that actually knows what it’s doing. Laypeople, on the other hand…

I once had a rather uncomfortable exchange with a person who told me that I shouldn’t sell until I did not have to refer to design books; but obviously neglected to say what I should do with the piles of jewelry I produced as learning aids, in the meantime. This is another time in my life where I look back and say, “I shouldn’t have listened to that person.” At all. I probably shouldn’t have even talked to them, because that gave them a platform to throw around more of this nonsense (like the idea that contacting the author of a beading pattern to ask permission to sell something made using it, and under which conditions [credit to the pattern author, a cut of the profits, etc.], would be confronted with hostility, even though the act of reaching out for permission is one of goodwill).

Like the time I mentioned wanting to take Ceramics and was told, “only old people do that;” or the time I wanted to try out Graphic Design and was told that I, “could do more,” or the time I was making a Dutch Spiral chain for my pendant in Metals class and was told, “no beading in class.” Or, for that matter, the time I mentioned wanting to take Biology and was told, “only girls do that.” (It was obvious that I didn’t like the “teenage girl” image, at the time; which, given the fact that the information given to me is obviously false [from the point of view of an adult], was likely the other child’s motivation.) Like, what the ****. Where would I be if I had been hardheaded enough not to listen to these people, or at least enough to throw out their invalidations of my desires once I got home?

The one time (of the above examples) when I was hardheaded enough to keep going and know that I was doing what I wanted to do — when I was following my own desire and did not let myself be diverted — was when I finished that Dutch Spiral chain. (People still ask me how I did it, and I can say that it’s a popularly known technique.) The angry person I mention above in the context of the ethical use of patterns, actually threw me off my course for a number of years, because I wanted to be a good person. Thus, I didn’t make jewelry to sell with which I had gotten help from a pattern. This was before I got into Library School and read deeper on the issue. It’s also before I got back into my pattern and instructional books and realized how much I could accelerate my own growth by learning from others. What it looks like to me — and all it looks like, now — is an attempt to sabotage my development, which is even worse when you consider that the person was throwing themselves out there as a mentor.

I did have a (metal) pendant design come to me the other night as I was trying to get to sleep, and have wanted to make a maquette of it. A maquette is basically a paper model, which I would make using stiff card. I should have done it last night when I thought of it — I haven’t had the energy to do it yet, today. The form is kind of cosmic, with interlocking crescents. Kinda (not) like Sailor Moon, though I have entertained buying a black oxidized naja and making a circlet with it, and dressing up as a member of the Dark Kingdom for Halloween. I’m aware that this is not the cultural context of its intended use…it’s just that I’ve seen some examples which look very much like the symbol in Sailor Moon books and anime, to the point that I wonder if they took and duplicated the exact dimensions.

I do wonder if I’m crazy enough to do that. Am I that…crazy…

While I think of the design (interlocking crescents) as like a black hole, it’s likely closer to a magnetic field…or a vishva vajra. Realizing that made me start thinking on the validity of Vajrayana (Diamond Vehicle Buddhism) last night, and the possible connection with singularities. (There was some show on gravitational lensing, dark matter, and dark energy, the other night.) I don’t think I could be an adherent of Vajrayana Buddhism in this life, save finding an actual appropriate teacher. From all accounts, it’s intense, and I’m not a person who puts a lot of faith in faith anymore, so my motives would be questionable (fear? grasping at immortality?)…and you kind of need a strong motive to put yourself through that.

I would also be more than irritated if there were no reason for it.

Anyhow…I think I’ve finally reached the end of this train of thought. Thanks for getting through it with me! Right now, it’s about 10:30 PM my time, so I should probably start doing something else than talking online…