art, ceramics, personal, self care, self-publishing, writing

Pen tinkering. Ceramics. Plus the hard stuff.

Last night I was having issues with my new TWSBI ECO stub-nib fountain pen hard-starting and skipping (that is, not writing well). Today I looked up possible reasons…and I think what happened is that the pen had likely rolled in my hand, causing me to write more with one corner of the nib than the other. This, plus the pressure I used to try and get it to write correctly, pushed the nib out of alignment with the feed. I could see it today with my 10x loupe. (I originally got the loupe for Geology classes. This is another occasion on which, I’m glad I never tossed it.)

I nudged everything back into position (this nib and feed are looser than on my initial ECO [a Medium nib], but that’s likely because when I tried to adjust the Medium’s nib and feed, it was dry, thus unlubricated and fragile). We’ll see how it works.

Last night I realized that if I flooded the feed with ink by manually advancing the plunger in the ink reservoir to expel all the air, I could get it to write again. But I really shouldn’t have to do that.

It’s like a puzzle in a pen. Anyhow, that’s just part of what I came here to write about.

As I may have mentioned…we’re getting rid of things over here. Last night as well, M had separated out a bunch of glassware and ceramics from storage, and told me to pick out anything I wanted to keep.

There is a small stoneware vessel, black and gunmetal glazed, which I made in high school…it’s about 4″ wide, maybe 2″ high. I don’t know what I’d use it for, but it’s beautiful. I washed the dust off of it and dried it…and holding it later, still warm from the water, I found another beauty to it: because I made it with my own hands, it nestles down right in my own hands. Still.

Apparently, my hands were fully grown when I made this pot. :)

I wasn’t expecting to find beauty in a tactile form…but once I did, I rescued two of my other pots…a pinch-pot and another which I had thrown, both from high school. This was to remind me of the beauty I could create with my hands.

I’m not in love with the decoration on those two — both of the latter are painted with underglaze and fired with a clear crackle glaze on top. The crackle glaze doesn’t make for a great surface feel. They’re…from early on in my development. But I kept them because they’re good as examples of form. I also kept the black and gunmetal piece because it’s just beautiful.

In the near future, I should be cleared to practice ceramics, again. There’s a place I can go which has a lot of time devoted to ceramic making, and will fire my pieces for me. As the major expenses (and barrier to making) ceramics are in the kiln, wheel, and stable wedging tables…it’s a big help. (Well, I don’t know if the wedging table is really a big expense. I know it’s hard to find something suitable; clay is a fairly sturdy material to be pushing around on top of it.)

So I am hoping to get back into this. Even though it will probably mean having to go back to routinely moisturizing my hands. :) If M and I do both get back into it (she also has taken years of ceramics classes), there’s the possibility of getting a wheel and kiln, ourselves. I know she has thought about it. So have I.

I think, at least, a kiln would make me feel safer than a torch. Though, the same place that does the ceramics, also gives Jewelry classes (both basic beadwork, and Silversmithing). I have a couple of semesters of Silversmithing practice under my belt; it would be interesting to get back into it without worrying about explosions or accidentally burning the building down.

Or maybe I should say, there will be other, more experienced people, around to help prevent those outcomes. And it won’t necessarily be my fault, if it happens. As a third benefit, I’m pretty sure the Fire Department has been called out there, before.

I also, last night, began writing again about gender and sexuality in a hard copy. As a note to myself, it’s in the pink journal…

I made the connection between avoiding making myself vulnerable and the reactions I’ve gotten in the past because I have made myself vulnerable, particularly from M, and also the Internet.

It makes sense not to go into some of this stuff with her. I think she may appreciate it, if I didn’t. She just isn’t the greatest person to talk to about emotions…she’s more action-oriented, and doesn’t know what to do if I’m talking to her about something she can do nothing to fix. She also is quick to snap to judgment…even if she doesn’t understand the situation. I don’t want to be exposing new tender baby shoots of ideas to that.

I had thought that when I had finally figured out my identity, that was it; I was done; I could stop working on it and obsessing over it, and move on with the rest of my life. But, in reality: the story doesn’t end when you figure out who you are. It is an answer, but life goes on, and along with it, the story continues.

And sometimes…what you think you’ve figured out, isn’t the whole story. (Such as: “I’ve figured out who I am; now how do I interact with the world?”) Or the answer isn’t sufficient to last you your entire life. You find out that the categories you used to figure yourself out as a youth were flawed, or you realize that the way a person looks has little to do with the person they are beneath (but much to do with their experience), which revolutionizes the way you think about people. Or you realize maybe you can be attracted to a range of people, despite being celibate. Or maybe gender isn’t always (or perhaps, ever) the prime qualifying category you love in others.

It’s just that way.

At this point, I kind of wonder about the efficacy of working in a fictional format…as versus a blog one, or a semi-autobiographical one. It’s one of those things you’ll want to know before you post anything online. :) Basically, posting it verbatim online counts as publication, and will take First Publication Rights away from others, which are generally what traditional Publishers seek to acquire from an author before publishing a work. They tend to want to be the first to bring it to the world — though there are exceptions.

Of course…there’s also the question of whether one wants to publish their work in book format, or in ebook or PDF format, or as part of a website or blog. That’s a really big question, though; not one which I feel confident about tackling in public, at this point in time. What I will say is that…I’m leaning towards the blog format, right now. Tentatively.

I know that it’s easier for me to write articles, than it is to think about tackling a long, integral whole that I keep secret until some future time at which I sell my intellectual rights to the work. It’s fairly certain that I won’t make a fantastic amount of money off of it, but I didn’t get into writing to do so.

It’s more important to me to reach people who need to hear from my experience and perspective, to help them figure out where they stand in this whole diverse world. Because it really is diverse; moreso than I ever could have really imagined, as a youth.

color, personal, psychology, writing

Writing with a purpose

I’ve gotten to the point where it’s hard to look at my blog and see that it hasn’t been updated for days. Some of that work is going offline — a lot of it, actually — but still…I feel isolated without my writings. It’s not like I can carry all my journals and pens around with me everywhere, though. In addition to the bulk, I don’t want to lose it. But I’m one of those freaks who thinks information is valuable.

I’m kind of wondering if I should start writing about risky things (intimacy, sexuality, gender variance, emotional pain, trauma, fears), in order to jump-start the content portion of my writing. I’m thinking that I keep concentrating on my handwriting and the form of my words, just to keep writing about anything, and because it isn’t emotionally vulnerable. I started off this post that way, and eventually wandered off into gender topics…

That is, I think I’m avoiding vulnerability, and that’s why it’s difficult to read fiction (I recently started reading Middlesex, 16 years after I bought it, which later incited crying from some childhood memory) or paint (which may force me to acknowledge an inconvenient gender and sexuality) or write (which will allow me to express parts of myself I’m not comfortable with and which don’t fit into my self-concept).

Of course, I can see someone about this, at the end of the month.

It’s just weird, though: getting to the age where taking risks is actually…risky (like, “can affect my livelihood”), is a different thing than being young and not knowing any better. I suppose if I’m lucky, I’ll make it to the age where I can be one of the cool old ladies who doesn’t care what anyone thinks.

From what I can tell…at work, it is being acknowledged that I’m different and that it’s OK to be different. I kind of straddle the line between butch lesbian and queer transgender male (not necessarily man-identified: and note, I am using the term “queer” in the U.S. reclaimed and subcultural sense [meaning not-cisgender and/or not-heterosexual] — not any pejorative sense with which it is used elsewhere in the world), which…well, it’s the only time in my life that I’ve been able to really not-hide that. Also, not-define it, which means not-over-defining it, meaning that I get that leeway to be who I am and show who I am, instead of trying to put it into words which inherently do violence to my being.

I’d learned not to talk about this stuff, online. I used to, but that was back when I didn’t have a community or support system. I do realize I could transition, you know, take testosterone. But there are more drawbacks than positives to that. If I were 23 again and didn’t think I was going to live to 30, so I would only be living with bi-weekly injections for 7 years, it might be an option. But the clear point is that I don’t consider myself a man or a woman (though I’m probably closer to the latter than the former). I’ve also passed the date by which I thought I would be gone, and am busy building the rest of my life.

Taking testosterone means coming out to everyone, and changing in front of everyone. And I won’t even be a man at the end, because that depends on the psyche, not the body. I could see doing it if I were transsexual, but I’m not. And it still won’t give me what I want. I just want to be fully male; I don’t want to be in-between, and I don’t want a feminized mind in a body that makes people expect me to be a man. Nor do I want my body torn up by surgery, because the options I have leave a lot to be desired.

The option I have — if I want to be fully myself — is to take testosterone and be seen as an openly gender-nonbinary trans* male. The thing is, “nonbinary” is only understood by a small fraction of the population, right now. There is even hostility within the trans* community towards nonbinary people (some trans* people who consider themselves fully men or fully women resent us for existing both because they can’t understand us, and because they see it as making things harder for them), so that also takes away a source of support.

I’ve been doing some experiments with color and handwriting as relates to my pens. I’ve found that I have to give myself permission to like things (like colors) that are seen as traditionally feminine. When I told M this, she shot back with incredulity: “You mean you don’t like things just because you see them as feminine?” I had to clarify that the case was more that I had been pushing those things away because I didn’t like how I was treated when I was associated with them. But I found I liked some of those things, anyway. And so I was giving myself permission to acknowledge it. (Also part of this thought stream, but one which I’m not sure I ever got to voice to her: I was acknowledging that I questioned whether cis women [as versus, say, men] ever had to give themselves permission to be feminine; this could be construed as evidence against my being cis.)

She seemed to accept that.

What I’m learning from M is that I think she’s gender-blind. She told me that there was no masculine or feminine except in my mind. I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. I’m also pretty sure that what she says doesn’t override what I think just because of her relation to me. In the ink-color experiments…there are some colors which have been designed to be gendered either masculine or feminine. Like literally, designed to evoke that point. Intentionally. I can tell. I don’t know that she can (or at least, that she can acknowledge that she can).

But what I’ve found is that I like the brighter colors better, roughly speaking. There are some that are terrible regardless of gender (by, for example, being unreadable); but the colors I thought I wouldn’t like, now look better than some of the alternatives. Particularly, Pilot’s Tsukushi — a dirt-brown color — I’ve found that I basically hate. I got it because I wanted to see what it would look like or feel like to write in a more subdued or neutral tone. I assumed it was aimed at men, whereas another color — Murasaki-Shikibu — obviously was aimed at women, both from its hue (an intense violet) and its naming (for a female author of the Heian era, the latter of which is noted as a brief time of peace in Japan’s history, and widely [among Japanese] considered feminine).

I also have been on a pink and red kick, because as long as I’m female, that means that the pink and red are allotted to me via my culture and ethnic background. For me, being seen as a female person (女の人) in Japanese culture is different than being seen as a “girl” in popular U.S. culture (which often feels dehumanizing and infantilizing to me). It’s like I prefer being referred to as a, “daughter,” than as a, “son,” but bristle at “girl,” and sometimes feel the need to qualify, “woman.” (“If you just mean by that, ‘adult female,’ then yes, I am an adult female [without implying anything about what an adult female is or should be].”) “Boy,” and, “man,” aren’t even on the table anymore.

If you had looked at me fifteen years ago, I would have been way more conflicted about liking pink. I would have been more conflicted all around, really. I also would have had a lot of shame around being gender-nonbinary, because I had known very few nonbinary people. At the time, I wanted to be a man. I now know that isn’t going to happen, simply because if it could happen, it likely would already be happening. Some things I just have to make peace with. And, you know, it helps to root out some of that internalized misogyny, too.

I wouldn’t call what I have been doing, with the inks and pens, calligraphy. It really isn’t fancy; I haven’t designed it that way. But I have at least three different handwriting styles that I can see, which appear depending on whatever writing instrument I’m holding. I have, that is, a different script depending on whether I’m using a Fine or Extra-Fine nib, a Flex nib, or a Broad or Stub nib. I might also have a different hand with a gel pen, though that struck me as a surprise when I saw how I was writing (about a month ago). Having different hands with different tools might be apparent just from logic, but I didn’t realize until last night how heavily the tools influenced my letter-forms. (Might there be something to be said for context-sensitive adaptation?)

In addition, for some inks, I’ve needed to find the right paper. There is a cross-grid notebook I have; like a dot-grid, but with little crosses instead of dots or lines. These crosses are distracting with my normal (Fine to Medium and Flex nib) pens, but they really fall into the background with a broad or stub nib. As well, the paper doesn’t absorb the ink from the Murasaki-Shikibu-loaded stub nib pen, so the color remains vibrant.

I’m running low on time, here. In another entry, or in the future, maybe, in my notes — I should get back to the question of whether I’m actually asexual or just celibate. The truth is that I don’t know, however:

There’s just a lot of stuff that comes up when you’re female and people think you are sexually active (and not with a man), which can be sidestepped when you aren’t, and have no intention to be. But maybe I need to look at issues of guilt around being harangued as, “lesbian,” as a youth (like any of those kids knew what they were talking about — I doubt even most adults know anything about the content of their hate speech). That is…it’s very easy for someone who is female and attracted to women, to be made to feel like a predator because they’re attracted to someone who is a woman…whereas, if one is male, it’s supposed to be a good thing, I’m thinking. Even if it actually is predatory (or otherwise stupid) behavior.

That kind of polarization is one of the things I grappled with as a very young adult, who was beginning to realize that gender diversity existed. I haven’t dealt with that so much, recently. However…the question of whether I’ve identified as asexual (and lived as celibate) because of not wanting to be seen as a disgusting creep, is one worth exploring. Maybe not here, just yet; but, still.

I mean, I seriously know what it’s like to have men whom I’m in no way interested in or attracted to, try to force their way into my life. If I reverse that, maybe I can see why some people have responded as they have, to me. Only, it’s like one in 15 will actually even have the potential to be interested, if I’m remembering that figure correctly…

Then, there’s the question of how much the exterior really matters…

creativity, personal, philosophy

Yearnings

No amount of purchases will get rid of the hole in my heart. Even art supplies. It doesn’t work if you buy them and then don’t use them.

Right now I’m in bed, fighting off the last of a cold which hit me over Christmas. Well: I’ve been sick for the last week. Although I’m in the mood to be vulgar with this, it’s wordpress.com (not .org), so I won’t be: the worst part of this is that it hit me when I otherwise had the opportunity to see distant family. (Distant in regard to space, not in regard to relation.) It’s good to be back home and not in a hotel. With a kitchen and my art supplies and medications and plentiful books.

But still, I don’t have much of a life here. In regard to friendship, that is.

We’ve been considering moving out to Hawaii for years. But…it’s a really hard place to live. I think I can say that. For most of the time we were out there, being indoors was constantly like someone had just taken a hot shower and vented the hot, moist air inside. It was everywhere, except the places that were air-conditioned. My books wouldn’t survive. I’d have to find a way to put them under climate control, or leave them behind, or forget about them.

The latter is hard to think of, as someone who has trained to be a Librarian.

Tonight, I broke back into my Baochong oolong tea, though I was out of it (fatigued) enough that I thought it was Jasmine. So when it was a little savory, I was kind of like, “I don’t remember Jasmine tasting like that.” Because it’s Baochong. Oolong. Not Jasmine green. Silly dumpling.

And yes, having the water temperature 15° F above optimal, for that oolong, makes it taste burnt. I didn’t know water could burn tea, but I think I’ve found, it can.

So…right. I now have enough tea for like the next two years, but a bunch of it “expires” (does tea expire?) early next year. (My Tieguanyin [Iron Goddess oolong], I was told, was likely fine even though 2-4 years past expiration, I can’t remember anymore. The Jasmine Pearls from that batch were better than the fresher tea I got to replace it, which meant I had to make a run to the good tea store in order to get decent whole-leaf Jasmine green, as versus whatever was in the bulk aisle.)

Granted, I’ll have at least a season to get through it and see what it’s actually supposed to taste like, before it ferments further. But it’s a pretty sure thing that given where I got these from (in Hawaii), maybe that data about expiration was based on Hawaii climate. Like mid-70° F temperatures and high humidity at the end of December. (What is it like in July?)

It was unseasonably cold while we were there, though. High winds, and a storm (with lightning) coming through right on Christmas Day. I still had the window open until the rain got too…sideways, however.

When I was a kid, particularly M would buy stuff for us as a token of love. She wasn’t great at expressing it to us after we got older (though I can remember plenty of times when she picked me up and tried to soothe me when I cried as a really young child — like I don’t know how young, I wasn’t paying attention to my age at the time — but it had to be under six years old, because I remember it happening in my first apartment).

I’ve been doing some reading about Reader’s Advisory and the value and neurological process of reading the narratives of others, which is probably why I’m back here writing this, now. I mean, you know, I’ve realized that writing isn’t totally worthless. Which, again, is a surprising thought coming from someone who has trained to be a Librarian. But it was made pretty clear in my Creative Writing program that Creative Writing wasn’t something one did to make a living.

A lot of that history, though, it’s kind of messed-up from the point of view of an adult looking back on it. If I had to do it over again, I would have at least tried getting back into the Japanese Language and Literature program. But I really wasn’t thinking that far ahead, probably like most people around the age of 20. Actually, around the age of 20, I was just trying to survive.

I won’t go more deeply into that, here, but I will say that my worst enemy was myself, at the time. I didn’t think I would make it to 30; so getting into my young adult years, I realized that I didn’t have a career plan. That’s why I became a Librarian. Or trained for it, anyway. I still have some experience to accrue.

I’m also, now, getting to the point that “young” adult, as a description, is no longer accurate. I’m just an adult, and I’ve got adult problems, albeit Millennial adult problems. Like worrying about how long any of us will survive. What to do if and when my parents are no longer here to help me. Disputing the personal value of faith and belief and religion in the face of guaranteed death and fragmented communities. (For some reason, the term “bad faith” just came to mind — can’t remember who said it, though. Sartre?) And, though I’ve been watching myself for the last 25 years, trying to figure out who I am as versus who I think I am. Because the two don’t have to align.

I am not even sure anymore that I’m a creative person, or if that is something that characterized me as a psychologically vulnerable youth. I mean, I know I’m writing, here. It’s just that I keep accumulating the props of being a creative person, and then not using them. Then that perpetuates the hole in my heart that I try and refill with buying more stuff, when not-being-creative and buying paints and inks and pens for some ideal future destination where I use them (and then don’t), doesn’t heal me.

I actually am using the pens for writing; that is one spot of healing. At the same time, I can only use one, maximum two, pens at the same time, unless I get into some gymnastics; so how many pens does it take to fill that one hand for that one session?

Buying stuff is not working. Using stuff, might; but as I realized on our trip, I do have a bent towards paint and brushes and inks and pens. I’ve overlearned pencils, though pencils can be the base of other art; it’s just that pencils and drawing the same stuff all the time has gotten so rote as to be discouraging. I realized over the holiday that I really don’t like pencils, now. At least, not the ones with tiny points and HB graphite lead. I’ve done enough of that.

In addition — I’ve decided to let the Art and the Writing go their separate ways. There’s no reason why I should, or have to, or need to, force myself to make comic art. Right now it’s influenced a lot of my work…but if I look at it on its face, I’m a much better writer than I am an artist, and I deflate at the prospect of illustrating a book of my own work. How much drawing it is.

With that out of the way, I’m free to paint and make mandalas and study plants, all I want. Right now, the mandalas are pointing me in the direction of abstract art, of which I think I have an inkling. Particularly, looking at some of my portfolio pieces from 2016, I know I have it in me to do this — I see things I was afraid of acknowledging before, like the shapes of women — and I hope that by getting further into it I can discover more about where these things are coming from. Of course, that might possibly lead into the place where I figure out I’m lesbian even if I don’t consider myself a woman and don’t abhor some sweet technically-male things who sometimes (or often) wish they weren’t; but forget judgment, this is your soul talking.

Well, this is your soul raging, isn’t it?

I think it took watching a Dr. Who marathon and voicing that I thought Clara Oswald’s character was cute, to get me to share that I can be/am still attracted to women. (I have a close female relative who cannot stand Clara Oswald [“she’s too perky”]. But then, she also can’t tolerate “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”. It’s too screechy for her.)

To each their own.

I still haven’t resolved how and if a person can be lesbian if they don’t identify as a woman. Then again…I think I’ve already resolved (in my head) that the category of “woman” is a social construction, a name for a concept generated by people which is not real on any ultimate level of truth.

Like I was thinking of saying before, not believing in “God” doesn’t mean you don’t believe in “Christians”. You can recognize that Christians exist without proving the ultimate reality of God. I mean, seriously: it’s obvious that Christians exist. The thing they define themselves in relation to, however; that’s not obviously existent, but to them, it’s part of their reality; inasmuch as a multi-tiered system of worlds, dependent on internal personal vibration or resonance, is part of mine.

I almost went there in my last counseling session, but I didn’t. The person I was talking with seemed to imply that being agender (akin to “atheist”, as I used it [I don’t think that’s usual]) meant being “gender-blind”, which is something that I definitely do not espouse. There can be men and women (who believe that they’re “real” men and “real” women) without gender ever being a solid universal or ultimate concept that lines up with reality. It just means that the definitions are personal and vary among people.

That also should mean, though, that maybe I shouldn’t lock myself out of groups based on my own personal gender definitions, when I know that those definitions only apply in my own head.

That also means, however, that it’s possible for me with qualifications to say that I’m a person who has the potential to love a woman (or someone who looks like one or is similar to one in some way). I just look like a woman, though. Just let me get too close to a woman in public, and I’ll automatically be slotted as lesbian; because most people still don’t know about the nuances of the LGBTQIA+ communities. Some may even take any apparent gender difference to be proof of a preference where it comes to who I love. Because why would there be a gender difference if it didn’t have to do with sex. Or something.

In the same way as everyone has to be a “man” or “woman”, everyone has to be “gay” or “straight”. And some people’s ideas of gender boil down to, “like me,” or, “not like me,” which…is worse.

In my reality, though…I find it hard to deal with being in a community where no one else has seriously questioned their gender. I don’t know what it’s like to, “fit in.” Without trying. The closest I’ve come is gender-nonbinary community, but even there, it’s fairly obvious that…well, we’re not obvious. I’m not obvious. And I don’t have any obligation to be.

My reality is much messier than any definition could hold, but you know what that means? It means I’m being authentic to myself. The issue is, then, regulating a channel through which I can contact and interact with the outside world, and I’m not sure how to do that without compromising my identity.

personal, philosophy, psychology, self care, spirituality

Reclusiveness?

Today, I didn’t go to work. It was intentional. Unfortunately, the vast majority of today was spent asleep. That…may have been a good thing, if I’m looking at keeping up my immunity. However, it did feel like time wasted (especially as I was called at least three times yesterday and this morning, to pick up an additional position).

I’m getting better at laying out my future Substitute positions. Last night I figured out when and where I’d work for the next two weeks, though I expect to be called in for more. As it stands, though, I can predict the minimum amount I’ll be paid — at least, unless I get sick. I’m starting to get concerned about the latter. I have a hint of throat irritation, though in the scheme of things, it’s nothing. What it means is that I need to continue to eat, drink water (especially), and rest. Some Zinc and Vitamin C probably wouldn’t hurt, either.

Over the past week, the weather has changed from Fall to Winter, rather dramatically. Of course, it isn’t quite Winter, yet: though I have always said that it would make sense for the solstice to mark the midpoint of Winter, rather than the beginning. But I can’t really change the Gregorian Calendar by myself.

Last night, I did lay out a number of things to do today, but to be honest, most of what I’ve been doing is eating and sleeping. I’m pretty sure it’s because it’s what I’ve needed to do…considering that one of us is already sick. There are a lot of things I could be reading: in particular, I bought a number of books on Reader’s Advisory which would help me out with work. I am concerned, though, about my vision, particularly when I’m looking at digital displays (e-books): if I read for too long, my vision blurs and doubles, and I can’t really get it to un-blur. I usually end up sleeping it off. It’s a bit disconcerting.

There is that 20-20-20 rule, where every 20 minutes you focus on something 20 feet away for 20 seconds, but in an interior environment, I do have to get up and find something that far away — like looking down a hallway. Generally, where I read, I don’t have anything that’s actually 20 feet away for me to focus on. It’s also extremely easy for me to lose track of time while I’m reading. 20-20-20 is easy when I’m reading something I don’t want to be reading, as it breaks up my reading time into short bursts. But when I’m actually absorbed; when the writing is actually good; it can be a bit difficult.

But if it will make it so that I can read for more than a couple of hours at a time, it will be worth it.

I’ve been intending to write in here over the past several days, but it has been a bit of a challenge, as I’ve also been questioning the use of sharing my inner thoughts with others. The difference between the way I feel now and the way I’ve felt before likely has to do with the fact that I’m more socially engaged on a daily basis.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it, but I have had a tendency to not have a lot of real-life friends. However, with the new job, I’m dealing with people almost constantly, including co-workers, patrons, and more distant colleagues. When I’m not at work, I have my family. It’s alleviated some of the need to be social.

On top of that, there are some upshots to communicating in ways that aren’t…you know, publicly recorded.

What I have been doing is writing by hand, but I’ve also been watching my blog languish. It’s just one of those things where, if I don’t see myself putting out some form of generativity or creativity, I get…well, a little sad. Since I’ve been blogging for over a decade at this point, I have a tendency to look online for evidence of my own existence.

The major issue I’m dealing with is anonymity, the lack of it; or possibly entering into a phase of my life where discretion matters. Either this, or I’m just experienced enough now to do things differently than I did as a youth. I knew the time at which I would know better, was coming. I’m just not sure now, at what time it’s going to actually fully kick in.

There is, that is, the question of what to do when you know that actions can elicit consequences, positive, negative, or neutral. As a youth, a person has the excuse of not knowing better. As an adult, one actually knows that they should know better, because they’ve made enough mistakes as a youth. And it helps when we can leave those mistakes behind.

In an era when we’re all free to publicly surveil ourselves and each other, however, I don’t know to what extent that is possible. Nor do I actually know to what extent it ever will be possible again, in my own lifetime.

So the thing about writing…is that it displays some of the innermost parts of one’s own sense of self, and experience of life, to others. Of course, some of this is by choice; a lot of it is unconscious. But it seems that to participate in public life, it’s required to show others a bit of who one is. While it is granted that in my later years of experience, this has been more positive than not — the earlier years were fairly nasty.

As a child, I learned that the more others knew about my own identity, the more accurately they could target attacks directed at me. So I learned sometime as a pre-teen to hold back information and promulgate disinformation, so that when they attacked me, they were (from my perspective) attacking someone else. They didn’t really know who I was, and that made it clear.

I haven’t had to do that for a while. The major difficulty here is not knowing who you are, because you’re too busy throwing people off your trail to practice being yourself. It wasn’t until around my 35th year that I began to get a good grasp on who I actually was. That, in turn, required a lot of unraveling social constructs, learning about people different from myself, and realizing that one of my most salient identities was not a positive, culturally preexisting statement, but a negation of multiple other identities. Despite that, it also includes elements of what I am not: I don’t force myself to conform wholly to being or not being one thing, because those “things” ultimately don’t exist. I have the choice to believe in them or not; I choose not to.

And then, there is the point that pretty much no matter what happens, this is the life I’ve got now, maybe the only one I’ll ever get; and that I really shouldn’t have shame about who I have been or who I am. It’s a work-in-progress. There’s also the point that it isn’t like anyone else is perfect, either. It’s kind of a “human condition” sort of thing.

Earlier tonight, I started to get into more depth on what I’m referencing…but those thoughts aren’t fully formed yet, and I know from past experience that maybe I should wait and think on them, and in three to five years, they’ll be fully formed and available for discourse. Until then, my discussions are speculation, because my thoughts and experience are relatively incomplete.

As a note to my future self, though: these thoughts are including the possibility of being agender/asexual (thus why I have spent so much time on the Internet without my body or sound with me, to code my gender) and having an atheist tendency (though I do have my own, “spiritual,” or at least, “contemplative,” bent; my beliefs have been challenged recently by the specter of our species destroying all life on this planet). I don’t think I would go nihilist, but there is the question right now of what is happening in this country and globally, that brings into question the value (particularly, pragmatic) of “faith” as versus the vulnerabilities that are inborn in faith.

But that’s another question. And I don’t have it in me to answer it, right now.

money, personal, psychology, self care, work

Saying "no"? (TW: mention of sexual assault)

Yes, yes…it’s Thanksgiving. I am at home with the heater on, in bed, with the computer. I could have gone to a family gathering, but seeing that actually eating there is gambling with my gastric health (I’ve gotten sick from eating extended family’s cooking more times than I can count), I’ve decided not to go.

Well, there’s that — plus the fact that they try to force me to eat — plus the fact that those gatherings are bizarre due to the people invited and/or present, whom I am expected to get along with. As someone who appears to be a young female (I’m not that young), I’m at increased vulnerability for things like uninvited attempts at gaining and holding my attention and groping, although the latter will almost definitely instigate immediate hostile retribution on my part. That is, the one person who I know would try something like that is afraid of me. :D I also keep my guard up around him, so he doesn’t have an opening to sneak in.

You get my point.

Why has he historically been invited, even though he has a record of this? Why are his friends invited?

“Why is your family dysfunctional?” you ask, rather. I don’t know. Not entirely. But I have a feeling it’s because no one in that family has learned to say (or insist), “no.” Or to accept, “no,” for an answer.

It’s also really, extremely cold outside, at least for here. Yesterday we had hail that didn’t melt, for a very long time. This is basically the first serious storm we’ve had since Spring (if you don’t count the windstorms that caused our power company to temporarily shut down service, about a month ago).

Right now…well, I go back to work tomorrow, because I haven’t yet learned how to decline invitations to work when I try and TAKE TIME OFF. So…yeah, I guess I have that problem, too. I’m hoping to carve out some more time for myself in this next month, however. I’ve been trying to work at least ten out of every fourteen days, even if it’s just a four- or five-hour shift.

I think I got a little spoiled on getting paid for putting in 75 hours over two weeks, so getting a paycheck for half that much when I work about 40 hours over two weeks, is a bit disappointing. It’s still about twice as much as I got when I was an Aide, however. The major difference besides that is that I’m allowed to work up to full-time, whereas before I could only work up to half-time. Still no benefits, but if I make it through Probation, I’ll be allowed to settle at a permanent branch as a salaried employee, with the possibility of health, dental, and vision coverage.

So…looking at where I stand right now, I am…I’m okay, financially. It helps that I’m living with family, otherwise I couldn’t do this.

The thing about work is that the more I work, the easier it is, to work. That makes it kind of scary to consider taking time off of work. But I’m pretty sure I could use it.

As regards the holidays…there’s nothing right now that I really want, that I don’t have. That’s part of the reason I’m okay with going to work, tomorrow. I’m offsetting what I’ve done already. :) Today has been…nice, but, you know, boundaries. If we all had appropriate boundaries, it could have been nicer.

Christmas, in particular, has been historically tough for me. When I was young, it was the day when all my relatives (aside from nuclear family) showed me how much they didn’t know who I was. So I learned, eventually, that my close family had a much better idea of my identity, aside from a “little girl” stereotype. (I’ve found, over much of my life, that people have tried to guess at my identity from seeing my appearance — which is a poor way of gauging anyone.) I also eventually learned that if I wanted something, I should get it myself, for myself.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that. Not to rely on other people to know who I am, or what I want. Right now, I have what I want.

I guess this actually is turning into a Thanksgiving post, isn’t it? I’m happy to have a job, and my family, and to be able to just stay home and warm when I could be out. (It doesn’t make sense to be out in this cold, though.) I’m also happy that I’m beginning to be able to set boundaries and just not go to a place which is more emotional labor, on my part, than celebration.

Coming up…coming up, I’m hoping to spend more time at home. I’m still not sure what the optimal amount of time is for me to be working, though I might know more about that, next month. This was my first time of actually trying to work 2/3 of the days I could (approximately 5/7). Yesterday at work was tough…mostly because I was categorized as an Opener, and hadn’t been told so. I shouldn’t be in charge of dealing with some of this stuff (I have been told in Training), but apparently that doesn’t mean I won’t be put into that position.

I can smell food warming, right now. I should probably sign off, so that I can have some time to rest my eyes before heading off to eat.

Anyway, happy Thanksgiving, though I know it’s likely just a U.S. thing. :)

ceramics, personal, work

Good tea amidst stressors…

Today, we actually got to visit Teance’s new headquarters in Berkeley. That was the good thing. The…not so good thing, is that I did check in with HR, and apparently they feel I could benefit from more training in working with children. They didn’t tell me this until I initiated contact today (after a week of near-silence). Should I be looking to work within an Academic Library setting? (That is, a College or University library setting: I might be more comfortable with the patrons, there, whereas Public Library settings, I’m seeing now to revolve around babies, children, and teens.)

Another not so good thing: our visitor has to leave pretty soon, and I don’t know if anyone is really happy with that. The third not-so-good thing: our power company has instituted rolling blackouts and threatened to cut off the power last night (which never happened). This is likely because they’ve been implicated in causing two large-scale fires with death tolls relatively recently…it’s not like I can remember the names of either of them, though.

Also, I’m supposed to go and take my test to regain my Learner’s Permit, tomorrow (EDIT: later today). So I can, you know, drive. Again.

I have also recalled why I stopped making gemstone and sterling jewelry (expensive — not from the stones, so much as the metals). And there’s talk of my relative now moving out of the country. The latter makes me question why it was that we were planning to move out-of-state to join them if they’re only going to move again…

Good part first (turned into “good part, only”): Teance is now open, and their Yin Hao Jasmine Green tea is pretty good. The location is also very close to the place we normally get tea from, so it’s easy to stop off there and get some higher-quality tea.

I’ve been doing some research on East Asian tea ware: I do like some teas like Tieguanyin and Chrysanthemum, both of which are more characteristically Chinese than Japanese…so I was thinking that they may work better (have evolved along) with Chinese ware, more than Japanese ware.

I did find a Taiwanese oolong that I’m curious about…it was mid-range expensive, which means that it wasn’t extravagant, but that it should be high-quality. I haven’t yet opened it. Even though I only got one ounce, it takes up a lot of space in its package. I also inadvertently crushed some of the leaves doing something, today, that I can’t even remember anymore. I only regret this because when I opened the Yin Hao, it was full-leaf. So, I mean, I was really crushing stuff.

So…the Yin Hao is very nice, less astringent than most green teas I’ve tried, although on first brewing it did initially smell like baking soda. It’s a good thing that I only brewed a very small amount in a little bit of hot water initially, as I could then rebrew (and rebrew…and rebrew…) the same leaves without losing a lot of flavor (though some mellowing does happen, as I’ve found with many teas). Anyway, I don’t feel I lost anything by brewing just a small amount of leaves. At this rate, one ounce will last a while.

Anyhow, I noticed that the Taiwanese oolong recommended a Yixing or porcelain teapot, whereas the other two I got (Yin Hao Jasmine [Jasmine-scented Green] and a Genmaicha [Green, with roasted rice]) were okay to brew in glass. I also did get a Longjing (Dragon Well) from a separate grocery, as I’ve forgotten what it even tastes like.

I started looking up Yixing ware and that led me to gaiwan brewers. Gaiwan…I’ve seen before, though I don’t own one, and haven’t used one yet, myself. Upon reading around, I found that instead of going for a Yixing teapot, a porcelain or glass gaiwan set would be better for my tea-drinking habits.

(The reason I’m looking at a different way to brew this stuff is that it’s kind of clumsy to try and clean out either of my tall, narrow Pyrex teapots.)

Well, and for the Japanese teas, I probably won’t have to worry about finding a genuine zisha (purple sand) clay pot, as I drink lighter and herbal teas. I did, however, realize that one of the more notable teapots I found in Japantown this last time, was likely related more closely to a gaiwan than to a normal Japanese teapot. This would explain why it was unglazed, lacked a handle, and was meant to be lifted by its edges. It was beautiful, but it was also $85…

I’ll think about it, okay? (Maybe.)

The major reason why I wouldn’t get a teapot like that, is concern about what minerals or metals would seep or leach into my tea. This teapot in particular was also black…which sounds like some kind of basaltic clay (or soot from the firing), unless a coloring agent was added.

The thing about teapots that get seasoned with use is also apparently that, being porous, they impart flavors from past brewings into future brewings, so it isn’t great to switch around with different types of tea. It’s like there is one pot for Taiwanese oolong, a different pot for Tieguanyin, etc.

I also don’t drink intensely flavored teas (black teas or dark oolongs) much at all (they’re just too strong for me), which means I probably don’t need an unglazed teapot to season. Yes, apparently they do need to be seasoned! And I’m not really a formal-tea-ritual type of person.

I’m also still tasting a lot, which implies that a gaiwan would be best for me, until I settle into a favorite type (over Jasmine, I guess, which would also be great in a gaiwan).

I also learned a new term: tisane, which refers to an infused drink like a tea, which is not made of camellia sinensis.

Anyhow — I should get some rest, but I wanted to post this. I am not sure how much going over things in my life which I don’t like but can’t change, will help. And, tomorrow I will be able to work at my driving stuff. Things go on, I have foundations to build. And I haven’t been fired yet. :) Even if I am, I have the active backing of a vocational program. And, my family. It should be OK.

creative writing, LIS, personal, self care, work, writing

Reading, boredom, and other people’s lives

I am still waiting for the go-ahead from my County to go back to work. It’s a little…unsettling. For the past couple of days, I haven’t been doing much aside from eating and sleeping. I did realize, either yesterday or today, that I could be studying my employer’s website for content, or that I could be reading in any of the literary magazines I’ve just obtained, or working on my Japanese language acquisition. Or: writing, but it’s hard to write when you don’t have a lot to write about.

Actually, it isn’t the case that I don’t have a lot to write about; it’s that I have a number of things that I feel I can’t write about, due to an attempt to respect the privacy of others. If I were to write a memoir, you bet I’d have a lot of stuff to write about. There are people relatively close to me whose lives are like a slow-motion train wreck that never ends. It’s just that when people do messed-up things, you know, often they don’t want anyone else to know about what they’re doing.

I do recall getting a book recently that was talking about just this which was saying that, essentially, if people didn’t want the author to speak badly about them, then maybe they should be better people. I just went to check my shelf and I have several different unread books on writing. One of them is Ursula LeGuin’s Conversations on Writing. I’m not sure if that’s the book I’m now thinking of, but I believe it was a female author.

So…it is the case that perhaps I can start reading again. Not necessarily entirely focused on my job (or my health)…but it has been such a long time since I’ve been able to read things that I’ve chosen for myself (as versus textbooks), that I may have lost the habit of reading for pleasure. Of course, my current job does reward the practice of reading.

I believe the biggest thing in between myself and reading is likely the fact that 1) I trained as a writer first, not as a reader, and 2) print books aren’t animated like the ****ing computer screen. Of course, though, it’s possible that reading physical books won’t have the same degrading effect on my vision that reading the computer screen does.

In any case, I have plenty of free time right now. My concern is that I don’t know when it will end, and I’ll be able to go back to work. I have to pass a number of screenings that I have no input on, get my photo taken, and then get into the substitute interface. I’m just hoping that they didn’t send my affirmation to my work email, which I can’t access from home. I’m also hoping that there wasn’t something missing in what I was supposed to do (or not do) that I now need to rectify…after someone advises me of it.

I also have three more days before our guest leaves, but they’re on a working vacation, so yesterday and today, I haven’t seen much of them. I do need to get a haircut, but with my hair, I can’t bet on that being cheap. I have a hard time spending a lot of money on something like that…but on the other hand, it has been at least 10 months since I last had a trim.

And…my hair is getting long enough that I’m inadvertently getting it into things behind me. Not to mention that I’m finding (and making) a lot of split ends. Maybe I will make an appointment.

Let’s see…

I think having this extended period of nothing to do is worse after having worked three 40-hour weeks in a row. Whenever something like that happens, whether it’s related to work or school, it leaves me without an established routine when it suddenly ends. After, you know, it has been taking up the vast majority of my time. I had to really center my work, and focus on being ready for it day after day, in order to keep going for as long as I did.

Not to mention that I think I was doing better as regards self-care, when I was off of the computer. When I got back on here to do that post about the necklace I made, that was when my routine started to degrade. I need to remember to live for me, not for an audience. I mean, I’ve had times where I was actually making posts that were getting a lot of hits, but that doesn’t happen without posting regularly, for an extended period of time. That takes a lot of effort, and some planning. Especially when I’m including images.

I should note that I did find some Japanese-language readers at Kinokuniya, but I put off buying them because I know they’re above my level, right now. I do need to get back on my Japanese-language study. So maybe I should prioritize reading. Also, soon I should be able to get some materials for the Hematite + Smoky Quartz necklace that is now in progress on the living room table.

I’ve just got to remember that I do have some things in progress, and I shouldn’t just wait for things to come to me; I should do something in the meantime, while I’m waiting.