career, libraries, writing

Strengths

I began this post thinking that maybe Librarianship wasn’t a bad place to travel in my career, after all. Then I wrote out a few paragraphs, and realized…no, this…Public Services is something I really shouldn’t do. I mean, really should not.

When I first started a job as a Library Aide, I got a lot of pushback from patrons (including the guy who tried to get out of his fines by doing a “Godfather” impression). I was thinking how, after two to three years, after I learned to expect the unexpected, that mostly ended. Even given that: in reality as a Library Assistant, I was only on the Reference desk for seven months before COVID forced the libraries to close.

That is, I didn’t get the chance for things to become easy. They were never “easy” for me, at the Reference Desk, because that work is basically having to respond to the environment in the moment, never knowing what is going to happen next. It’s fielding random questions that I almost never know the answer to, offhand; and even if I did, best practice is to look it up, anyway. The problem is, when you’re at the Reference Desk, the patrons seem to always expect you to already know the answer to their questions. Because, you know, you’re the Librarian, and Librarians all know everything. Well — no. We know how to help find information, we don’t already know it.

Of course, finding information isn’t the hard part. Even trying to figure out what you really need to know so we can help you, isn’t the hard part.

The hard part is dealing with disruptive and criminal activity (most apparently from what I can tell: stalking), protecting some of our patrons (like youth) from others of our patrons, and routine policy violations: e.g. eating inside; letting one’s “Service” Pitbull sleep in the middle of a walkway around a blind corner where someone can trip over her or step on her or run her over with a 120-lb cart (and we’re trusting her not to bite? Not to bite?); leaving one’s dog tied up outdoors where he’s obviously in great distress and crying loudly for you to come back. For 45 minutes. Or worse, running around loose and unattended.

(Okay, maybe I have a thing about dogs.)

Then there are the people who are lonely and want to sit and talk to the person who is at work and can’t leave the desk (and just assume that she also wants to have a conversation — with them — at that time); or incessantly ask for assistance they don’t need, because they want social contact. As much as I wish I could say that we aren’t paid to be friends with people (which feels one step away from prostitution/consort work), upper Management seems to have no problem with expecting people to do so.

Then there are the people with (usually, assumed) mental problems who behave erratically (and/or ritualistically) and sometimes in a hostile manner, depending on the brain chemistry of the day. Not to mention the ones that will comment on librarians’ bodies (is that worse?), or ask intrusive personal questions. I guess, “because they want to know you.” And they don’t think that maybe you don’t have an interest in giving out facts about your personal life to someone you don’t know.

And yes, I did break up with somebody who insisted on calling me a, “sexy Librarian.” That **** doesn’t help. I don’t get a buzz out of being called “sexy,” especially when you’re simultaneously misgendering and stereotyping me. You are supposed to know better. I imagine you smacking your lips, self-satisfied — I am not the person you want me to be.

That is, there’s a host of interpersonal difficulties that come with being behind that desk, which are made even harder when one gets into libraries for the perceived safety, the inclusivity, and the information; and not, so much, to serve the public (meaning, “everyone who doesn’t violate policy [regardless of whether you agree with policy]”). When that’s compounded with a lack of effective training from Management on dealing with these points (and then chalked up by Management to the employee’s [or Manager’s] personal failing when it isn’t handled well), it’s not a good situation. Especially when one asked for applicable training, and had it denied.

But seriously: it was only seven months. Although that list up there ^ is from 10 years of experience.

Well, actually, maybe it is a good thing that I’m not in Public Service right now, and I really should aim for Cataloging Librarianship. The thing is, I’m not sure to what degree I will be able to both handle a job as a basic, “Librarian,” and also avoid Public Service. Kind of like I’m not sure to what degree I can be a Metadata Librarian and also avoid Computer Programming.

Or how I can learn Computer Programming without my brain screeching out of stress. I’m not a Programmer. At least, not at this point; but I would suspect, not ever. Markup Languages (HTML, XML) and Stylesheets (CSS; I stopped at XSLT) are different, but higher-level functionality (XPath, and I suspect JavaScript) makes my brain hurt. Then there is MySQL and…I think it was, Oracle (that is, an instance of Relational Database Design & Implementation, and language to Query that database). That wasn’t great, either.

And no, I didn’t know what I was getting into before I got into it.

I’m thinking it has a lot to do with all the vocabulary getting mixed up together: entities, attributes, elements, relations, values, etc. And the teachers using the terms like we already know what they mean, when I have to think about the definitions of words within at least three different compound terms just to try to understand a single sentence.

Given that…I realize that, in contrast, I have a lot of insight into social dynamics, even though I’m not a particularly social person. Last night, I was writing a post on my own…facilities, and special knowledge. I realized that my personal experience with disability (my own, and others’), and my mental focus around the area of marginalization in general…probably would help me in a Public Services capacity. (Not so much as a different temperament would, but.)

I do suppose that with everything that I’ve experienced, I’d also likely be good as an Academic Librarian.

What I realized, when I was writing my post, is that I have deep, visceral knowledge of what it’s like to be a multiply-impacted minority in this country. It’s…something that I am not entirely aware of, until weighing the benefit I could bring someone else through my experience, and realize that — for something like Ethnic Studies or Gender Studies (and hey look, there is a Disability Studies [now]), I have direct experience of what it’s like to live through what a lot of people just read about.

That is, I forget that my experience could be influenced by others altering the way they deal with me because of my (ambiguous) race in addition to my sex in addition to my apparent gender (which is not my gender) in addition to my apparent age (which is not my age), while my disability’s stigma (after I reveal I have one) can cause fear in those who are supposed to help, and none of the random sexual attention from men on the job is wanted (that is, I’m not a heterosexual woman, and I certainly don’t want a man who starts off by playing power games based on who he thinks I am [that is, subordinate to him], based on my appearance).

Wow, that’s…clear.

Maybe I should just be a Writer. It’s a solitary vocation. Of course, though, it requires a second income. And also, reading; which is not entirely…something I feel comfortable prioritizing while I’m in classes, but it would feed my writing.

I’m having two issues with my writing, right now.

One, when I spend the majority of my time writing, I cut down on time that I should be spending reading in order to enter into dialogue with other ideas and other writers.

Two, when I write, I write some things that I don’t feel safe publishing (even with the First Amendment; this country can be grievously unfair when it comes to the full protection of minority citizens), and that stops the entire discursive process in my mind. What I know I need to do is write my way through that content, without intending on publishing it, so I can get to what’s after it. Or, develop what I’ve written before. I don’t even necessarily know what I’ve been doing for the last week, but I know I haven’t been working on any of my Creative Writing projects. Or art projects (other than setting up the new palette).

Ah, that’s right: I’ve been working on second language acquisition (which by its nature is very basic) — particularly, new kanji — and my class. Hmm.

Then, there’s the point that major life decisions have come up within the last week.

I’ve also been writing, here, and that takes more time than I realize. One recent post took five hours. I’ve been writing this one, since last night.

I don’t feel so bad, anymore. The thing is, in my evenings, I can write here or in my notebooks, and/or study Japanese language. In the daytime, when my mind is sharper, I should be studying Library Science. Maybe after that, I can read in English and, you know, develop content…though perhaps the book I’m attempting to read isn’t actually interesting to me, right now. Regardless of its disputable topic aligning with my interests.

I still need to be looking at Writing and Editing jobs. Seriously. Even if Editing is an interpersonally-intense vocation, at least I wouldn’t be dealing with the general public. I’d be dealing with approved Writers and other people in the Publishing Industry. Not that that would necessarily be easier…

…but I know Writers. I’ve been around Writers. I’m a trained Writer.

Maybe it would be. (There’s also the fact that if I’m an Editor, the authors of the works I commission probably wouldn’t be as likely to overstep their bounds — because hey, it’s hard to get a book deal. And Editors aren’t designated as, “Public Servants,” which some members of the Public interpret to mean, “sub-human and unworthy of respect.” [And we wonder why minority Librarians are apt to leave the field?])

So right now…I know that I want to be reading and writing, and learning Japanese language (nihongo), and working on my class. That’s enough to plan on — right?

Reading and writing could further my career in the direction of becoming a published Author, which could help me become an Editor or Professor. Learning nihongo could further my career in the direction of becoming a Japanese Language & Literature Professor, and/or an Academic Librarian with a Subject Specialization in Japanese Language and Literature and Creative Writing. And my current class allows me further specialization in Cataloging Librarianship.

As for hobbies: drawing and watercolor, fountain pens/stationery, sewing, beadwork (weaving, stringing, micromacramé) are current…but the only things I’ve been doing recently have been playing with pens and stationery, and trying to organize my watercolors.

As for specializations: we have diversity & inclusion — especially in regard to LGBTQIA, cultural and racial diversity, neurodiversity. Then there are color interactions & color harmonies, which tie together my hobbies. Beaded micromacramé. Jewelry design. Parapsychological thrillers. Library Science.

…and maybe…just maybe, I should work on sewing that blouse I cut out at the beginning of lockdown. Making and altering clothing could be a valuable skill, even if I can’t see myself as a clothing designer, at this point.

And, regardless…it might take my mind off things…

career, creative writing, libraries, LIS, psychology, writing

Hypergraphia?

Given that my last hard-copy journal entry was titled PPP (Pretty Poor Productivity, which I could easily manipulate into an acronym emphasizing more completely my frustration), it seems surprising that I would come back to the blog instead of doing classwork. Especially as we’re getting set up for another heat wave, to begin tomorrow.

I’ve been intending to get my non-deliverable homework done by the end of the night, as I don’t foresee using the computer in the daylight hours between tomorrow and Monday. I also don’t want to fall behind; it’s disheartening. Tomorrow can be used to catch up on my reading (I only have 20 pages).

Beyond that, though: there’s more to be done, really, than putting one foot in front of the other. Long-term…we’ve just made a decision which may turn out to be momentous in its impact on our lives, though it’s a fall-back position. I won’t get too far into it (in public or at this time, at least), but I wanted to note it.

Right now, I’m feeling distracted. I’ve just gotten through cleaning up a bunch of stuff in the craft area; M is there now, cleaning up her things. I have been…likely distracted since a second round of paints arrived, and then there are the pens I have been talking about, which have been getting attention since maybe Thursday? Then there is the language training thing, which isn’t bad…but if the backup plan goes through, I just might be able to take in-person classes, after COVID is no longer an issue. If that ever happens.

And yes, I do suppose it’s possible that I’m a bit depressed. It’s kind of hard, not to be.

I mean, it’s kind of like, “Where am I going with my life?” I know I have strong English skill and Art skill…and some Computer-oriented skill. But I’ve spent the last 10 years figuring out what I don’t want to do, following a career path that I knew nothing about when I chose it, because of a Vocational program which — other than helping finance my schooling and giving coaching for how to apply for jobs — really may not have been all that great?…

It was good to get me into my first job. That doesn’t mean much, though, except that now I have a track record and people who know me.

The major issue for me, if this fall-back position goes through, is going to be figuring out what to do for money. Especially considering that there may not be many non-service-oriented jobs in the area. Now that I’ve mentioned that, you may realize what I’m talking about…

…and it may be more worth it for me to do some reading on psychology and anger management, and try and adapt to the world, instead of being upset when people fail to live up to my expectations (which, with the general public, is a regular-enough occurrence).

If nothing were to change, I’d be seriously considering writing and art as venues within which, to sell my labor. I suppose I can still do that. It’s just that — and this is something I’ve been dealing with for a long time — working creatively feels like a waste of my intellect.

I think I’ve gone over that in my private journal, though. It could well hold for any job, though: that working as one little cog in a machine is simpler and a waste of my talent, when I could be working on my own projects.

So maybe I really should look at being self-employed.

I’ve been having a recurring series of dreams about going back into Undergraduate training and into the Hard Sciences like I thought I would as a teenager. I just feel like I could be helping to cure diseases or something, and instead, I’ve been dealing with random hostile **** being a front-line service worker.

But — as I have been learning with XML/XPath/XSLT — if I know from the outset that I don’t like the classes, what makes me think that I’ll like the work that the classes are training me to do? What makes me think, “it gets better?” Being “cool” doesn’t get very far when I seriously have to deal with work that I dislike (and Computer Programming, I’ve found, I dislike).

The most obvious opening, for me, is becoming an author or writer or Lecturer or Professor at the University level…that’s possible, and it’s even…interesting. But that’s going back into Academia. Do I really want to do that?

When the alternative is service work or computer work, the answer is yes; when the answer is art work or writing…there’s actually a complication which occurs.

Seriously, though: do I really want to put in another 2-4 years of work to gain an MA or PhD?

(If the question is if I would do that for an MFA, the answer is an emphatic, “yes”; but then I have to pick a field. Creative Writing, or Drawing and Painting?)

And then there is the possibility of studying Japanese Language and Literature, which…I would seriously, like to do. At least, from here, I think I would like to do it.

And if I’m doing that, I might as well work in a University Library and get free tuition. Getting an additional Master’s would clear me to work in the position of an Academic Librarian, pretty much anywhere. Would I really like to do that, though (especially given that Academic Librarianship also involves teaching at the University level)?

That is — am I actually OK with going through the process of gaining tenure, or traveling around until I can do so?

But that sounds sweet, guys. That really sounds, sweet.

Like hella effin’ sweet. I’d learn to read and write in Japanese, and my reading can enhance my writing, and I’d get to help the University kids, and live in University towns for the rest of my life.

I might also be able to focus on comparative literature; at least, after that’s over. Though Comparative Literature has never really been my goal, I’ve read into at least one book (Articulations of Difference: Gender Studies and Writing in French), which was what originally whet my appetite for non-English writing.

I can’t believe it. I found a bright spot! Through writing! I love writing! :D

There are also accelerated courses at the place I’m looking at, which sounds so good! And I could get to teach at the University level, about something I’m actually interested in!

At the beginning of this post, I typed “Hypergraphia” as the title. That’s basically due to the fact that I’m just pretty obsessed with writing, as I can tell from yesterday. “Hypergraphia” is a psychological term for the compulsive desire to write. I’m pretty sure it’s what was getting me through my Creative Writing training, when I felt like writing was one of the only constants in my life. It’s also likely what I was going through, as a teen.

Of course, though: if I had a mental condition which was causing me to write compulsively, and then that condition is treated and no longer rules me…the question is, what do I do with my life, then?

Learn another language? ;) Read a whole lot? Journal? Get back to writing for its benefits without letting it drive me into the ground?

I’m feeling so much better. I’m going to end this, here…

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…

libraries, small business planning

Dreams

I’ve decided to spend some time on this post despite the fact that at 9:30 PM it’s 85° F (about 30 C), and I’ve been…well, off of the computer all day. I’ve realized to an extent how important it is to me to produce content.

I’ve really been kind of down on not updating this blog as frequently as I had been. Some of my work is going into paper journals, which is actually likely a relatively good turn for me (as I don’t have to worry about judgments, etc. when no one else sees what I’ve written). It keeps me honest, even if I’m still working my way out of being cryptic in exchange for being public.

Today I realized that there was one other outlet I had designated for myself when I was offline (other than sewing, beadwork, and exercise), and that was reading. I finished a chapter in Rethinking Information Work on going independent with one’s skills. (This is Chapter 5, by the way.) I actually (literally) had a dream about the possibility of working for Hewlett-Packard as a Special Librarian, which got me to realize that…hey, it’s possible; but I’d need more IT education. :)

“Going independent,” kind of ties in with the Project Management class that I’m now a part of and am thinking I presently have little use for…it seems most of this work would be of more use in large organizations with multiple players and departments. I was thinking Project Management could help me with my own potential (beading) micro-business, but it’s not looking that way, at least not right now.

The critical problem I have seen has little to do with appearance, and everything to do with dreams — dreams of the possibilities of existence. “We can’t create a world which we can’t imagine.” That was the insight I brought to a group just recently, and which I bounced off of M and D last night. They say it’s valid. My issue is that our dreams are turning into nightmares; and vision about who we want to be, and what we want our world to be and become, is eclipsed by the visions of those who only want some of us to exist in it as fully-self-realized beings.

There’s also the question of where I would source income from, should I begin a Digital Library project of my own. I and the people who would work with me would need to be paid, unless it’s agreed that we operate at a loss. (I wouldn’t think that unusual, in the Publishing community.) I’ve actually been kind of inspired by the people on WordPress who are running de facto literary magazines and book review sites, which is …well, it’s something I can see myself doing, or helping with.

I mean, I have an undergraduate degree in Creative Writing (which prepared me to at least try to be an Editor), and a graduate degree in Library and Information Science. It would seem to be right up my alley. (Of course, it wouldn’t hurt to attend at least a digital Writing Workshop, to get my feet wet again. Or, hey — it would be interesting to integrate that, with the site.)

I can also see where a Collection Development course would come in handy, in addition to Digital Libraries and (possibly) Information Architecture, unless I partnered with someone (or some people) who could help. Then there’s the aspect of funding, which…well, grant writing would be an option, as well as crowdsourcing.

That…is a relatively brilliant insight, I’m thinking. I had forgotten about the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), but they could help — if the project is nonprofit and I’m also a full-time Librarian.

Right now it’s almost 11 PM. I’m thinking about getting back to my homework for Project Management and writing this up…

career, libraries, LIS, personal, psychology

Retrospective

Granted, I’m not entirely sure what’s going to come out of me as I write my first post in five days…just try to bear with me. One of the things that has been on my mind, is employment. Particularly, working in the private sector of the economy, as versus governmental infrastructure. (In the United States, Public Libraries are governmental institutions, as it is not possible to maintain a liberal democracy with an uneducated public.)

Or…being able to specialize and work in a job in which I know the answers to questions, as versus working in a public service position where all day, I’m asked questions I don’t immediately know the answers to. Maybe I just need to work on my phrasing, like, “Let me see if I can help you find an answer to that,” rather than, “I don’t know, but I’ll try” (which is how I feel, a lot of the time — even though, a lot of the time, I can help them find their answer).

Yes, it’s true: “librarians” don’t possess encyclopedic knowledge about the world. We just know how to navigate the world of information in order to find sources in which your questions might be able to be answered. (I put “librarians” in quotes because not everyone who works in a library is a Librarian — but everyone who works there is assumed to be, by many, many people. Kind of like some people assume the title of, “Public Servant,” to be a hierarchical statement, which it is not. The people at the DMV are not slaves. Neither am I.)

That also doesn’t mean we’ve read all the books. That’s one of those things I learned as a Library Aide (i.e. Shelver), from the professional Librarians.

And I’m kind of tired. I mean, seriously. I’ve only been in this position for nine months (2.5 of which have been on lockdown), and the amount of time I’ve spent having to draw off of my own resources because of system downtime and the like…it’s incredible.

Well — I have been on lockdown for over 70 days, which has caused me to realize how much stress I do have about going in to work. I’ve just been doing it because I’ve felt I had to. Like there was nothing better.

To be honest, a lot of getting into this field had to do with salary, emotional safety, and health benefits — along with the fact that writing, for pretty much all of my undergraduate years, had been one of my only constants (the other was my family). That, in turn, happened because during my freshman year — at a different University — I realized that being asked to write nothing for months, and then turn in a huge paper at the end of the quarter, wasn’t working for me.

I was also aware of being gender-different, somewhere in there, though I didn’t quite realize it until I met people who identified as transgender (and actually figured out what the “T” in “LGBT” meant, and that it was separate from issues of sexual attraction). I’m not sure when that was, exactly: I wasn’t keeping a journal, back then. It’s kind of like I can’t tell if I was actually required to write a 60-page paper at the end of the quarter, or if it just felt that way.


But there were so many things that threw me for a loop in early college. Not kidding. Sociology was one of them. And I did really love my Astronomy course. And my Japanese language classes.

The problem was the extremely high ratio of freshmen to everyone else on the campus (I went despite knowing there was a 60% freshmen turnover rate, which was my fault). There were also unresolved problems with infrastructure, culture, and the fact that at the time I graduated (from a different [commuter] University), pretty much all of my debt had been accrued while I was living in the dorms or apartments, from my first 5 quarters.

Still: living on my own was a really liberating experience, for me. I can’t say I now approve of everything I did, because I obviously was being impacted by an undiagnosed mental disorder at the time; but just to get away from my parents and everyone who knew me (well, most of them), that was instrumental in being able to figure out who I was. Because at the end of high school, I really didn’t know.

Looking back on it, I would have done better to go to Junior College first, and then transfer into a University program after I had better self-knowledge. And, you know, a plan. That wasn’t what happened, though.

Then there is the fact that through most of my College and University years…I’ve been going through without Advisement. I didn’t know how important it was at my first University (where it was not mandatory), and I don’t really remember much of it at my second University. Then, in Grad School…if I had not withdrawn and later returned, I might have had access to a student advisor. Junior College (which I returned to after Undergrad and before Grad School) is the place I remember having people who would actually try to help me figure out a life path.

As it was, no one signed me up for an advisor when I re-entered the system in Graduate work. I tried to get one and was told that the program I had been told about didn’t exist. There was also another feed I was supposed to be signed up for when I re-entered, which I only found out I was missing out on during my last semester when I tried to graduate.

Having worked in a Library for 10 years, I was also repeatedly told by my parents that I, “didn’t need an Internship,” when it was recommended by my school to take at least two or three before graduation. I do have experience, but all of it has been within the same County system, and all (aside from schoolwork, which had me branching out into an Archive) within Public Libraries.


So…you can see my path has been kind of fraught. Not to mention that my upper-division courses in Undergrad were focused on Fiction writing…which is known not to pay the bills. (I didn’t know it at the time I entered the major, however.) That is why I went into Librarianship, because Librarianship, at least, could earn a decent income, and I could double-task my reading. By that, I mean that working in a Public Library requires at least some reading, and writing your own fiction most definitely requires reading others’ work.

(Not that it really…is pressing on me to write a novel, anymore. Things might change if I went back to reading fiction. There’s just so much that I haven’t seen come out, which I could give life to. But if I don’t read it, I don’t notice the gaping holes in content.)

Earlier on, I also had my eye on San Francisco Public, which was one of the only places in the country, at the time, to cover Female-to-Male reconstructive chest surgery. Otherwise, it was a $7000 out-of-pocket expense. Regular health insurance wouldn’t cover it (though this was around a decade ago; some HMOs will cover this surgery, now).

I wasn’t sure it was what I wanted; and I’ve ended up not taking the option, as I’ve realized that what’s going on with me is more complicated than, “being a man.” I’m not really a man. I also knew — as someone with a disability requiring lifelong care (no, I don’t mean my gender issues) — that in an era before the Affordable Care Act, I actually needed health care. At the very least, I needed mental health and pharmacy coverage: the medication I was put on to treat one of my diagnoses (at its worst, it’s life-threatening if untreated), was extremely expensive.

Of course, the patent has expired and now we’re into generics for that one medication, so it is no longer a huge price gouge. But for a time, it was — or would have been, had I been kicked off of my medical coverage after I aged out of the system and had to reapply with a, “preexisting condition,” which the same HMO had diagnosed. At the time, it was legal to charge exorbitant rates if one needed health insurance and wasn’t totally healthy…which undermines the reason behind health insurance existing, but I digress.


During my college years, I did read: and I read a lot. The thing is…I hardly read a lot, on my own. I did it to fulfill assignments, and to learn; with the major exception being learning about Buddhism and Occultism in my University Library. (They actually had Gems from the Equinox!) The problem I can see here is that my reading choices reflect my own hangups and concerns about the state of the world. So…they aren’t the most enjoyable things to read. They are, however, oddly comforting. (Even A Brief History of Time, by Stephen Hawking, gives me some respite: if the end of life is actually an end, that means I don’t have to deal with this world being messed up for an age or so, as doctrines of reincarnation, rebirth, or Hell, suggest.)

At this point I know that people getting killed off by disease, for example, has been a norm in enough of the rest of the times and peoples of the world, that I shouldn’t really be surprised if it becomes a norm, now. Also, heard about the end-Permian extinction (a.k.a. “The Great Dying”)? There was about 9x as much carbon dioxide (from vulcanism) in the air as there is today (if I recall correctly: from The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs, by Stephen Brusatte). Most life on the planet died off. But as a biosphere, we made it through, somehow.

What’s going on now…dense population centers and ease of global transportation have made it easy for microorganisms to spread. Whereas before, an outbreak like COVID-19 may have occurred, the effects would have been localized. The virus causing the illness may have died out (it’s never a good idea for a being dependent on its hosts, to kill them off — did I read that in The Andromeda Strain, by Michael Crichton? And if so, was he talking about us?).

The conditions we have put in place, however, have enabled, “one weedy species,” to take hold, and instead of the disappearance of Panamanian Golden Frogs, it’s affecting our species directly, this time. (The quote is from The Sixth Extinction, by Elizabeth Kolbert, page unknown. [Sorry, I decided not to mark up the book until later…])

I wonder if I do read a lot.


Well. I have, in the past. But obviously, not widely enough. It was in high school that I realized I didn’t know how to write female characters. That should have told me something; what it did tell me, I’m not sure. Perhaps, that I was not a woman.

But I believe, from this point looking back, that this development (or lack of one) was largely in relation to not having been exposed to effective, original, fully-developed woman characters with emotional range in the majority of the books I had to read as I was growing up (the major exception being the “Dragonriders of Pern” series by Anne McCaffrey, though I didn’t really see those characters as being gendered, and I didn’t have to read them).

I mean, yeah, we read Ellison and Hemingway and Golding. But name an influential female character in Invisible Man, or Lord of the Flies, or pretty much anything by Hemingway. They aren’t there.

Then there is Anne Rice, whom I may get titters at for having read when I was a teen. (She used to write erotica under the name, “A. N. Roquelaure”…it’s disturbing. Seriously. My University Library had some of it — I made the mistake of reading it.)

Now that I think of it, though: Akasha in The Vampire Lestat was a main player (even though she was likely literally insane). Same with Claudia, though I can’t recall ever actually having read Claudia’s story (I think it was contained in Interview with the Vampire, which I never read…it was kind of painful, being one of Rice’s earlier books). And there is Gabrielle (Lestat’s mother), who comes in as a deus ex machina at the end of Vampire Lestat.

Then there is Violin, which was more interesting to me. Nor have I read her “Mayfair Witches” series. Now that I look it up on Wikipedia, I wonder if I want to…ugh.

Also, the fact that she is a female author writing these things…I would suggest could contribute to the idea that women, you know, can have personalities. But there is the question of why so many of her main characters are male, as well: Louis, Lestat, Nicki, Armand, Marius.

Maybe she had the same problem I did; just having been exposed to so little material that writing female characters who matter, and have personalities and lives and power, and who don’t circle around men, becomes difficult. Also, as a lot of this stuff blends with history…the womens’ stories may just have been too painful to write (though I can see that angle coming in with the Mayfair Witches saga).

So I guess there is stuff out there…it may just not be anything “classical” (unless you’re looking at Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights and the like, which…seriously, I hated having to read. Almost as frustrating as getting to page 400-out-of-600-something in Moby Dick [after which, I gave up], but not quite).

Maybe I underestimate the amount I’ve read…maybe majoring in Creative Writing and being around a huge number of prolific readers, can do that to you?


The question I started out with at the beginning of this post was, “If I’m not going to be a Librarian, what am I going to be?” That is still not clear. What this post has clarified for me, though, is that maybe I actually do have a good shot at being a Librarian. Even if I have a side job for a while, working in a bead store or for a small fabric store. Just out of love.

I don’t know that I’ll ever have to set up my own database, but if I do, I’ve had practice at it, already. But what’s clear is that I’m getting a bit old to be consciously attempting to follow in my Dad’s footsteps. I don’t have to be a Web Developer if I don’t want to be. (He wasn’t even ever really a Web Developer — he just worked intensely with computer systems.)

There is a course that has come up, which I’m pretty sure will be useful for me; at least, if I continue in the role that I’m in now, or become a Public Services Librarian. It has to do with dealing with customers with active/untreated psychiatric disorders. (It happens very, very often in Public Libraries.) Essentially, this class will help with any role that puts me into the front line of contact with the public — or into managing front-line workers.

That would apply in a good number of places; and would keep me safer where it comes to dealing with the public. In self-defense they teach how to kill people who are attacking one, but not how to effectively de-escalate a situation which hasn’t yet reached that point (like, if you don’t want to kill them or hurt them or touch them). The latter, I have to learn somewhere else. Which…is ridiculous, but hey. Some people specialize in the latter. It probably isn’t martial arts masters.

Public Services Librarianship isn’t my final goal, but it may be an intermediate step. From here, I think I’d be happy in Technical Services: specifically, Cataloging and Information Retrieval (including Metadata Librarianship), or Collection Assessment and Development — which will probably go by different names, if not different job functionality, by that time.

Particularly, there has recently been a merge between Technical Services (which also includes Acquisitions), Information Technology, and Management Sections which has happened within my professional association. So…however things go in the future, it does look like what I’ve been dealing with and interested in, may actually be possible from within the same Section. Whether that will trickle down to the division of labor within American libraries, is yet to be seen…

Business, career, jewelry, libraries, psychology, self care, work

Relax, kid. You have options.

I remember now, something I learned in Library School: you don’t have to do the most difficult thing possible for you to do, just because it’s difficult. Challenging myself constantly may not be the easiest route forward, in life. Yes, I’m talking about COVID-19 and myself working in a public service position based on gathering and sharing, with chronic OCD and a germ phobia. All that has to happen is for someone to cough on me. That’s all that has to happen.

If I were living alone, this may not be such a big issue: but I’m living with two parents over the age of 65, which puts them at high risk. Given that I still need them to support me (I still can’t drive)…that’s not great. Also given that my sibling is an ocean away and that my nearby family is not known for their mental stability (it’s hereditary, except I’m taking care of my dysfunction instead of denying it)…also, not great.

Right now…I’m at a relatively unique place: a juncture at which I’ve never before been. I’ve got job experience, extensive training, schooling. My debt is taken care of, due to family. I’m still with a program designed to help people like myself (I am legally disabled — though I didn’t realize my OCD alone would grant me protections). I question now, however, how much that program has been or will be able to help me further (aside from assistance with learning to drive…or obtaining a job which is not public service).

I know for a fact that they weren’t aware of the reality of working within a Public Library system when they recommended I try it, for example. I had run-ins with two creeps early on (one of whom was a known stalker), which I was entirely unprepared for. But that’s normal, for a Public frikkin’ Library.

Essentially…I have a lot of freedom, right now. God knows how long that will last, but right now I have the ability to pretty much do what I want. Over the last few weeks of the quarantine, I’ve started to get back to what comforts me: making things. It takes my mind off of the stress. I really don’t know everything about how it works; I just know it does. Today I received an order of cords in the mail…kind of makes me want to cry, but not in a bad way. It’s nice to have the money for these things.

I still need to re-register for a seller’s permit (which will enable me to pay tax at point of sale of finished items instead of at point of purchase of materials)…but I can see an extended market for face coverings right now, as well as for jewelry (although I am very aware that jewelry is not a life necessity: it’s a luxury, and people may not have much money for luxuries in the near future). The key thing here…is that if I get (or maintain) a relatively stable part-time job in order to finance the making, I could bloom that income.

Right now, I know what I have saved, and I know a bit about what I could earn. The question is whether I could emotionally tolerate the work: I’d rather work with objects or data, not people…but the position I’m in now is almost entirely composed of working with people. Then there is the fact that working with data most likely means working with numbers (at least if I’m dealing with Big Data)…not my favorite thing to do. That leaves, objects…from which, I’m learning a surprising amount. (Not least, I’m recalling my Geometry — which was one of my favorite topics when it came to Math.)

As well…the surge in physical productivity I experienced recently…that only happened once I tried to commit myself to language as an art form. Then I realized that I didn’t want to do it. There are reasons for this…prime among them is the fact that language in many ways could be said to attempt (and repeatedly fail) to encase reality. I know about this personally.

It’s much easier to exist outside of the confines of language, for me. Working with other languages highlights the biases of English…however, both Spanish and Japanese (the two non-English languages I’ve been most closely acquainted with) have their own strong biases (gender in the first case, hierarchy in the second), and I’d expect the trend of cultural quirks to continue across the myriad of world languages I don’t know about.

Working with images…or literally with fabric or glass, it isn’t the same thing. Color reaches people on a much more basic level than words do. As for why or how, I’m still not certain — or perhaps the part of my mind that can think and type in words, can’t comprehend what the rest of it, knows. (I wouldn’t be surprised.) But there’s way more to me, than just language; and I’m wishing to explore that, at this point.

This reminds me of a game I heard of recently…I’m not sure whether or not it’s Gris, but there are no words spoken in the game…which has really fantastic implications for the way it is received globally and cross-culturally. This is the same reason I was initially into MARC (MAchine Readable Cataloging) encoding — everyone had to learn it, it wasn’t language-specific; but right now, as I’ve heard, it’s one of the oldest legacy technologies and is set to be replaced by Linked Data…

Gah, now I’m getting technical and not knowing how to describe this. But Linked Data also works across different languages and vocabularies.

That does give me more of a sense of peace, than not. On that point, I wonder if I should be a member of IFLA (the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions). Even if I only had the opportunity to work in New Zealand or Australia or Singapore, those could be good options.

I think that with the Library work…I’m going to aim to become a Cataloger. It will keep me working with items (as versus people), and maybe it will be easier for me. If I can’t find a job within a Library system itself, I can work for a company that provides pre-cataloged items to libraries. If not that, hey — it isn’t like item description, organization, and retrieval is any less of a problem, anywhere else.

And I do have some coding skills…

Maybe I should invest in that. I could help with website development for bead shops desiring a Web presence, for example…

Business, career, craft, libraries, money

Deciding against Summer Session for now

It’s safe to say that I didn’t accomplish everything today that I set out to do, last night. As I begin this, it’s shortly after 10 PM on April 24…I was mostly asleep, until 5 PM. (I was able to get up for breakfast, but then burning eyes and an overall sense of lethargy had me take a three-hour nap, lest I get sick.)

I also exercised a little, and I met my weight-loss goal for the last two weeks (even though I don’t know how that could happen…but I’m not complaining), so that was positive.

For what time I’ve been up, I’ve been working on more masks — trying to see how many coordinated ones, I can squeeze out of what I have. I wasn’t pushing myself to work quickly. I still have a week before the interim Shelter-In-Place order might be up…and even then, I would say it’s likely we would be staying at home as much as possible.

We know that two to four masks are going out to help others…I’ve picked six out to choose from (which don’t contain the dense batik that may be difficult to repair, or the one with felt interlining which M requested).

I have materials for five lined up, right now; plus an additional two which I need to cut ties for. A call to dinner interrupted those.

I’m getting more into the process of matching things up before I cut them, and getting to know how many masks I can make out of one Fat Quarter. Essentially, one pre-shrunk Fat Quarter (roughly <18″x22″) allows the cutting of one front panel (slightly larger than 9″x6″), one back panel (same), and one set of four ties (2″x 18″ each). It could also render two sets of four ties; or, five panels. I haven’t yet tried fitting three panels next to four ties, because, well, I’m working with fabrics that already have chunks taken out of their corners (or uneven sides).

Though I don’t regret cutting up what I have (it’s important that the cheap batiks get used) — I do regret having bought some colors that don’t really coordinate well. ;) Particularly, pine green. Yeah. What am I going to do about that. And a magenta batik which I’m also not sure what to do with, other than pair it with yellow or gold.

I also have an overpopulation of blues, a number of which are also hard to coordinate because their color is so pure. It’s the same problem I’ve had with virtually all of my drawing supplies, and the reason why painting ended up being so attractive to me.

It’s probably also why I have so many batiks.

Today was the first day I could have signed up for Summer classes…but I’ve decided not to go that route. I don’t know if I’ll regret it, but I’m not too hot on getting back into a Library Science class and being judged on how well I meet the requirements. (A “B” average [3.0 GPA] has to be maintained with my University, or one is blocked out of further training: even with post-grad classes.)

It’s also about $1400 for the one class I would have taken…compressed over Summer Session. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about Cataloging. I don’t know if I’m going to stick with it, and really, I don’t want to blow $1400 on something I find out I don’t want to do. It’s given every semester. I have other options to take before that deep dive, to test the waters.

No, I didn’t plan that analogy — but seriously, I don’t have to shell out that much right now. I just haven’t been overly impressed with my experience of Grad School. Not kidding. I don’t know if I even would have gone, if I hadn’t had financial backing and institutional and family support.

I also likely wouldn’t be looking at Cataloging Librarianship except for the fact that I did enjoy my Metadata class, and people repeatedly and over years, have told me that I would be good for the position(s). However: choosing to do something because it’s something that’s not what I know I don’t want to do, but at the same time, I don’t know what it is: that’s not a positive reason to go into it. I understand that; I’m not sure if the Librarians I know, have understood it (or have thought that deeply about it). It just seems like Cataloging, to them, is the land to which non-People-Persons flee.

In the interim, I’m going to be doing more training. I know a place where I can learn MS Excel online — which I’ll likely be able to use for many things. (Previously, I’ve received training at an Adult School, but I think it was four intensive sessions.)

I’ve finished that one Linked Data book (Linked Data for the Perplexed Librarian), which means I can begin reading Essential Classification and get back to Online Searching (which is, basically, the other end of Classification). Probably, I can also get back into my Reader’s Advisory study, if I get bored (and if I can tolerate the authors’ attitudes, which is not a given, and which is the biggest reason I stopped reading them).

Seriously, I don’t know if Public Librarianship is for me. There’s just…an ideological component which I recognize and am not all the way comfortable with. Probably because I’m uncomfortable with ideologies in general. I mean, yes, it’s great — philosophically speaking — that there’s a place where everyone can go and be treated with respect…do I want to be the person burdened with the task of tolerating everyone as long as they don’t break others’ written policies, however? To respect people who don’t respect me? Who don’t respect people like me? It’s one thing to set policy, another to be the person who has to carry it out.

There are a number of privileges you don’t get to have when you’re a Public Librarian; limitations on who and what you do and don’t accept — or attitudes that make your job more or less difficult to tolerate. Is the job important enough to me, for that?

But that gets back to emotional labor. Something I really don’t want to have to undertake, although in service jobs…well. What choice does a person have? (What are jobs which do not require emotional labor [at least, that aren’t either menial or math-based]?)

I would say, though — I would have more of a choice if I were not a, “Public Servant.” (Which term, many members of the public seem to misunderstand as a kind of hierarchical status.) If I were working for a private firm, that’s different, though maybe not so much as I’d think.

The difference is that I can refuse to serve a person (for any reason Management will allow, given that they also have their own Business cultures — which I know about, having taken Business and Management classes [yes, I know what a Strategic Plan is]) when working for a private company. Working for local government is more convoluted because of our funding being dependent upon local opinion, plus the footholds of government and politics (and that aforementioned ideology).

So…the remaining openings I’m looking at…there are three:

  1. Academic Librarianship
  2. Special Librarianship
  3. Digital Librarianship

…and I probably need to get on looking at non-Library jobs, as well. I think I’ve grown past the point at which I didn’t want to ever accept money from people. It was because all my needs were met, and I didn’t need the money. But faced with the prospect of having to take care of myself…yeah, I’d need the money. Computers don’t come via goodwill. Neither do art supplies. Or housing.

Well, I suppose that if I’m almost 40 and I finally understand what it means to be able to earn the money to buy things I need and want…well, it’s slow-coming, but I guess we all eventually get there…or, we’re taken care of all of our lives. At least, that’s how it’s been, for me: and I can see that I don’t want to have to be taken care of, forever. Because, for one thing, that leaves me in a very bad place if my caretakers are no longer able to help me.

No, I don’t want to end this entry on a downer.

I should continue with my studies, even if they take me somewhere different than I think I’m going. Mostly, for me, right now that’s reading — though I think it is possible for me to take internships through Open University.

I haven’t done any Japanese practice in several days…is it that important? I’ve just reached a point where the program I’m working with has become nonsensical (in terms of examples). I’ve had to look up words because the program can’t see me to know that I’m not understanding what it’s getting at. After I looked the words up, still, I don’t know what it’s specifically getting at…and there is no Teacher’s Manual that I have seen.

I think it would also help me to figure out both job tasks I would like to undertake, and places I (think I) would like to work. I really hate job-hunting because of false leads and cons…that’s what it takes, though. There are also probably a lot of people job-hunting right now, so maybe I should give it a rest…

Fabric store, though. Local fabric store, as a place to work. Or local art or craft store. It could be interesting. I already know a couple of people, as well…and I’d be willing to help out just to figure out what goes on in there, and gain experience…and that could lead to more. Businesses aren’t necessarily as regimented as the environment I’m used to…

— end, 12:35 AM, April 25, 2020

craft, fabric, libraries, sewing

Sewing? Who the…wha…abt…sorry, I’m tired.

I’ve spent long enough working on masks today, that I think I need a break. Right now I’ve got another batch of batiks and Kona cotton (though the latter is for ties; it may be too insubstantial for filtering) in the hot-water-shrinky-washer, so it’s not a great time for a shower…

I find it amazing, though, how much of sewing is pressing. I hadn’t really thought of it, before. In any case, today was largely spent picking fabrics, laundering them, pressing them, cutting shapes out of them, pressing them again, figuring out how to make pleats in a rational manner, ripping out bad work…and then, sewing. Sewing takes the least energy of all these things! (I found out that creasing the fabric in the center, then along 1/4 lines, makes it much easier to lay out the pleats…ideally, I’m working with a 2″ joint, but it was wider this time, as it was my first try.)

So, right now, I’ve got one mask. That’s one more than I started the day with, and because it is teal, it does look like a hospital mask (which I’m not fond of). But still. It actually catches the moisture from my breath, which is what I think it’s supposed to do. Plus, I now know what I’m doing (and where I might improve on the design, with the limitation that I’m working with a bunch of Fat Quarters, for the most part).

In specific, I’m thinking of overlapping the ties over the pleats at the sides of the mask…which will require longer ties, but I can fit four of them into a Fat Quarter, along with two mask panels. It would take down the bulk at each corner.

Work on the Nepali Blouse has stalled; it was more important to work on the I’m-not-gonna-give-you-Corona-mask. But there’s a lot to sewing that I realize now, I remember. Even threading the bobbin and the machine. It’s a different machine than I’ve ever worked on, though I did once take a Sewing Machine essentials class, so I remembered the direction in which to run the thread…(IIRC, I make a “p” with the thread if the bobbin is drop-down, and a “q” if it’s a side-loaded bobbin…don’t quote me on that, though).

I’ve also restarted reading, as I’ve realized that this is the one big thing I need to be doing, that I’m not doing. Reading, practically, anything. I did just start Radium Girls last night, and got through the 10th chapter…it’s fairly gory. Having…well — painted — myself…I know how cheap camel-hair brushes are, and wonder what the outcome would have been if the radium dial workshops had used brushes that actually would have kept a point…not to mention the lingering question of why specifically, “girls,” were recruited to perform the task of ingesting radioactive pigment with no protection.

Anyhow. I realize there may be a lot of questions as to how to access eBooks, so I had to run through getting access for myself. (It would help to know that, at least!) I still haven’t tried all the platforms, though, and I can’t try all the devices.

Right now…the fabrics are out of the wash, and in the hot-air-shrinky-dryer. Maybe I have it in me to go and sew again? Or maybe I should give it a rest and get some rest, to preserve my health…

Yeah…I’ve been up, for a while. Take meds, brush teeth, wash face, then read more Radium Girls and go to sleep when it gets disturbing enough… ;P

career, creativity, libraries, LIS, psychology, self care, writing

Time to plan, to do, and to take care

I’ve been speaking with some colleagues…there is a significant opening for me at the place where technology and cataloging/metadata converge. Right now, I’m fairly tired. I spent all day cleaning my bedroom and office, which now, you know, makes me want to make up my bed more frequently. It also makes me want to dust off my Rilakkuma plushie which always falls face-first onto the floor (he wasn’t designed well).

But anyway…a lot of these jobs are in Academic Libraries or cultural heritage institutions (like Museums) or with some of the people who work with libraries to help them offer quality products. Why am I getting into this? I’ve decided to go for mainstream Publishing where it comes to my fiction.

I’ll be able to use a history of publishing to enhance job applications in the Academic Library sector, and also I could use it if I want to get into a Creative Writing MFA program (though I would also consider Japanese Language and Literature — which may be more powerful as regards my potential capabilities and scope — or Comparative Literature [between English and Japanese language]. I think they have different foci).

A Creative Writing MFA could enhance a position as a Creative Writing subject specialist or departmental liaison in a College or University setting, on top of a Cataloging or Metadata Librarian position. With Japanese Language and Literature, I could work at an East Asian Studies Library on a University campus (and most likely help catalog non-English materials, on top of liaising with the Japanese department).

I may be required to take graduate-level classes (beyond my MLIS) if I’m an Academic Librarian, as well, and those classes may have subsidized tuition. I will also likely be required to be literate in at least one non-English language.

I already know that I’m planning to someday be fluent in Japanese. I also know that I have a Digital Services background and some Cataloging background, an MLIS, and I’ve logged 10 years in a Public Library. Additional classes may be my way out of the latter and into a more back-room position.

That doesn’t mean, however, that my creative stuff won’t make its way here to the blog; it’s just that what does make its way here is primarily for here.

I’ve also decided not to stick too closely to the same story that’s been going through my head since I was a teenager, as…well, something like it is happening in real life, and it’s considerably more off-putting (to put it lightly). It may be time to let go of that fantasy. I don’t want to go down a dark and horrific road because I thought it was a good idea when I was 17 and for some reason can’t-break-free of the idea it’s supposed to be good and why isn’t it good and I’m going to make it good even though this person is a slimeball. (I shouldn’t get too creative with my metaphors, here…)

There’s a distinction between, “having some aspects that approximate pleasure,” and being, “good.”

Being stuck on the past is something I’ve seen way too much of in my life. Not just in regard to myself. “Just get over it, you aren’t a teen anymore. It’s over,” is what I should be willing to say. “Move on. What is now?

This does mean that — if I’m successful — I should have space to deal with what’s going on in my life and/or psyche in the present, as versus the trauma I went through, years ago. I’ve realized that just because I’ve found myself to be a non-cisgender, non-heterosexual, possibly celibate or asexual individual…that doesn’t mean I need to focus on the bad parts of that. After all, it’s 2020 — not 1980 or 1990 or 2000. There are updated threats, and considerably more finesse in the language and concepts we’re using, these days. And, I’m not locked into the institution of high school with everyone going through puberty at once.

So, just to take care of myself, I’m thinking of doing some drawings and posting them up, here.

I mean: other people do it. Heh.

As for the writing; I’m not sure where it will go from here, but that’s part of the journey. I’m starting to see that there are opportunities to be had, if I’m ready for them. Writing can be a way to approach the world. Thereby — I should have more than one story in me.

career, fiber arts, libraries, LIS, self care, writing

More of this. Is it a hobby? Is it important? What do I *want* to do with my time?

It’s so hard to get any project done when I keep changing my aims so frequently. And when there’s actual living to be had.

Right now I’m even wondering what the use is of getting my writing in front of people. Like, is it that important that people see it? And if so, is it that important to publish traditionally? Which is, basically, fraught with uncertainties, and usually doesn’t result in large returns. I think I heard in my Creative Writing program that if you send out 100 queries and get two back that aren’t flat-out rejections, you’re doing well.

If all I’m after is an audience, I can easily work that into a website, with a broader distribution. If I want to get physical books into peoples’ hands, there are ways to do that — through PDFs, through printers, through Print-on-Demand services.

Right now, though; I’m going through machinations without addressing the story itself. Why is it important to me to write — or to make public, what I write? Am I writing for myself? For my peers? To change minds? All of those options take different end forms.

Not to mention that I don’t have to make a profession of it, just because I was relatively skilled in it as a youth…I especially don’t have to make a profession of it, if I have a more expedient way of supporting myself.

My latest version of, “what to do with this story,” anyway, is to create a series of related short stories and/or prose and/or “comics” so they can be (potentially) published as a set — though that’s a long shot. Or, I could submit some stories to literary magazines. Also a long shot. And it complicates things if I want to publish everything as a set.

However, putting things into short-story format allows me some flexibility that is missing in longform prose. It would also be easier to make one or two stories into comics, or to just insert some illustrations, and leave it at that.

The major issue I’m having is wanting to do so many things, and being so disorganized that most of it doesn’t get done. I mentioned today in an offhand conversation that maybe I should be doing Fiber Arts. Why? I’m not entirely sure, but it has to do with color, line, needles, beads, knots, and piecework. Now what those things are going to get worked up into, I can’t tell, at this point. All I know is that I have the materials to make…and that there’s virtually nothing I can’t make with the skills — at least, that I would want to make.

It also means that I would be moving fully into Fiber Arts. I know from past experience that knitting is too slow and fiddly for me. Crochet is faster and more forgiving, but creates fabrics, normally, which are full of gaps. Gaps through which, heat can escape — meaning the fabric isn’t very practical.

Sewing clothing out of flat cloth (basically, making something 3-D out of a 2-D surface) is difficult, but interesting. And it allows me to modify patterns (and other clothing) to fit my own form (which would be useful, especially if it’s hard to find clothes that fit).

(It is.)

The major issue with sewing is that it tends to be more expensive and time-consuming than buying ready-to-wear clothing. But then you basically end up with custom garments.

That you may have to hand-wash. Drawback.

But if you resign yourself to hand-washing some things, it opens up the field, a lot.

And…yes, there is the inevitability of drawing blood when sewing, though normally it isn’t much. Just enough to make sure one keeps one’s materials and hands clean. But that in itself is a reason not to run a sewing circle at a Library: sanitation can’t be guaranteed. I just now assume I will pierce myself sometime, if I’m using either pins or hand-sewing needles.

Then there is quilting…which gets weird when you’re a beginner and don’t know why everything is so uneven. Even when I line up the seams. But I think anyone who has quilted, has ended up with weird first pieces. Which I’m on track to do. (Should I keep going and finish the messed-up square? Then frame it as my first messed-up square, because it marks a completion? Any completion?)

I had been looking into alternate job paths again…and I think I’m OK with not overly focusing on writing or editing (though I might do both on the side). It’s possible to work within what are called, “Technical Services,” “Collection Development,” or, “Acquisitions.” All three of these branches are related, and all three deal with materials before they reach the patrons — as versus being jobs that are on the front line dealing with patrons/customers/etc. They also all fall under a common subdivision of my association.

I still have to look further into it, but the point is that I don’t have to throw out my Information Science degree just because I’m not a, “people person.” It’s hard enough to deal with the public, without throwing in the fact that it’s not something I would do if I didn’t feel I had to (it is nice when I am able to help someone, which is most of the time) — but I’ve got to realize that I do have a choice about it. I’ve just got to find the right opening, and prepare myself.

Maybe I should talk with my boss about Cataloging. I have some back-knowledge from University, and I’ve taken several courses after that, to boost my skills (as, unfortunately, I didn’t take it seriously enough in University). She has worked in Cataloging, so she would know what it’s like. She also might know people who would give me a chance. I also have just taken a look at the upcoming Open University schedules…and have found a course which should help, if I want to move forward. I could apply starting on April 24.

Seeing how my other studies are going (Reader’s Advisory, Reference provision, Program Development)…hmm. I might do that. Becoming a Cataloging Librarian could happen. And it would keep me around materials, and away from the public.

Of course, then there are the professional tools that I may want to practice with, before acquiring a job. I’ve just bookmarked both of them…looks like they’ll run me around $850 (give or take) to subscribe to both for a year. The Public Library version of the tool — that, I know how to use. The Subject Analysis part of the tool, I don’t remember how to use. I last saw it in 2017, and didn’t realize what a gift it was to gain access to it. I’ve worked with the free version…which is doable. It’s just harder.

But yes, if I want to become a Cataloger, I should probably be studying this. There’s so much to know, that it would be good to be familiar with it. I believe that my prior failures in this area stemmed from lack of familiarity with the Schedules, and lack of familiarity with both the tools and the body of rules they stemmed from. I can study this.

I can, seriously, study this.

Of course, there’s also all the other Library-related material I’ve acquired over the last six months, which should keep me busy, if I can actually focus on it. Hope — hope, that’s always the thing that drives me forward.

Just — what will I do to relax? How can I not waste my time? There’s so much I could do… but what do I do?