creativity, personal, philosophy, psychology, spirituality

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(You see what I did there.)

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

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

I’m pretty good at learning, after all.

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

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

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

In the same way…have we forgotten our wisdom?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It goes on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If we trust.

art, book arts, creative writing, drawing, graphic design, psychology, self care

Sparked

I’m not entirely sure what happened, except that I recalled — after having had a mood crash not even two weeks out of classes — how much I had been doing before that class started in order to keep my mood stable. In particular…writing, and art. And not just “writing” as in “journal writing,” writing as in Fiction writing: particularly, literature. I was trained in Literature, but…let’s just say that what I have to say about the world could be construed as libel if I should hold too close to reality (but not yet close enough).

Last night I realized that what I might be seeking in that area was SF/F, or for the uninitiated, Science Fiction and Fantasy. I’ve…had a very long relationship with the latter, not knowing it was the latter. Kind of like I was writing a gender-nonbinary character long before I had ever heard of nonbinary gender. Not to get stuck on that — I have gotten tired of Middlesex and Left Hand of Darkness supposedly being about gender — but…I can see where this (writing) could sustain me for a while, at least, psychologically.

There are two large places where my desire to write is being hampered. The first is with not reading enough. Fiction, I mean. I have what is, by now, the same old story rattling around in my head which I have not set toner to paper to, yet. This is mostly because it’s underdeveloped, and a good portion of that lack of development has to do with its being “a nice fantasy” without real-world problems being interjected into it. I haven’t, that is, wanted to burden my characters with suffering of the kind I have experienced. Although that, overall…if I hold to that, it could lead me to some interesting worldbuilding places.

“That,” meaning, my own experience with trying to find enough pleasure in life to willfully drive it to continue…and then the relief from medication with antidepressant action which concomitantly has at times felt…false? The problem is that the pain seems real even though it’s a symptom of a known psychiatric disorder; a problem with wiring and connectivity and feedback, if you will. Runaway focus on pain like tracks ground into hard dried mud. The issue is that the thing I have the most pain over is the state of the world, and that is something I cannot, “fix.” Because I can’t fix it, I have to do what I must so that I survive, despite it. Outwit the thanatos.

In my case, I’ve opted for psychiatric medications over street drugs or suicide: over street drugs, because I was told that going on them would be the worst possible thing I could do for myself. Over suicide, because suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. At least, they say it’s temporary. People being ****heads, though…that’s kind of a permanent problem, I think.

I also know that death is likely to come far too early for me. If things are going well, that is, and life remains worth living. We do tend to hope that things will go well…

The second place where I’m sabotaging myself has to do with creating worlds and relationships which are more hospitable to life than this reality…which in tandem with my tendency to depression, means that I can prefer living in that world to living in this one. And I know that, and that is a problem. Or maybe knowing it means that I can guard against growing closer in my proximity to self-annihilation, while still receiving the benefit of rest which fantasy can harbor.

Of course, it does also seem that a whole LOT of people are close to self-annihilation right now. Not going to lie.

Anyhow, D had me (re-)watch a program on bookbinding, tonight, which got me curious enough to make a small maquette of a binding design. It’s really nothing…huge. :) Simply a way to take a horizontal format and place it on a shelf so that the spine still shows the title, author, publisher, without sticking so far out of line that it becomes problematic to store. As a person who used to shelve books — A LOT of books — and have heavy art books occasionally try to fall on them, I know that this is a fairly perennial problem. You don’t want to be in the Arts & Music Folio section when an earthquake hits, let me just say (although places which actually do have Folio sections are likely to be safer, due to specialized shelving units).

This is actually a reason I was driven to learn Japanese language: I had mostly been exposed to manga, not English comics. The entire flow of the page is different in manga — more often vertical in nature, and from right to left. This makes sense for Japanese language, which can be written vertically, and read from right to left when in that vertical format. It remains a problem for the English-writer who is inspired by manga but cannot write legibly and vertically at the same time. This is where wide-format books come into play, as English runs horizontally.

So basically: I now have puzzled out that three columns of 2×4 units (horizontal x vertical) for each page, laid out horizontally, makes a total spread of 12×4 units which can be used variously as a relatively standard-appearing comic grid (when divided into 2×2 squares), six columns of text, or text interspersed with images — the last two of which, I think I’m going to be using.

This is a different way of thinking about things, but it should afford me some rest from having to draw out an entire world, along with granting me the capability of inserting images by design. It also should give me the chance to play with InDesign…if I really cared that much about it. However: I have the materials for this. I know what has to be done. The next step…hmm. Hadn’t thought about the next step.

I believe it would be scriptwriting, possibly combined with storyboarding. I did start to take a class in this, but there were crazy high race tensions in that class, probably because the instructor was trying to seem anti-racist and…I don’t think they knew the point of anti-racism. Depicting diversity alone isn’t anti-racist. Trying to be anti-racist so you look more woke on the street isn’t the point of…

Let’s not go there. Wusa.

Anyhow. Scriptwriting, storyboarding. In working with a grid format, I would be imposing some limitations on myself, as in how long I can take to complete a thought, or what I’d need to put in place so the reader turns the page. Also: font size. Though I’m thinking of hand-lettering. (I do have an Ames Lettering Guide…)

I also need to be reading, more. At this point, I am wondering how much reading is going to take me away from the beadwork, and whether I’ll realistically be able to juggle reading, writing, beadwork, and library science. It seems I should be able to, at least so long as I don’t have a paying job…and developing skills in InDesign and Photoshop…that will be worth it, especially if I start looking for gig work as a writer.

Gosh, I…forgot I’d be writing all this…!

Maybe it would be best to work it out in text, first, and draw alongside, then see which one comes out as more dominant…

personal, psychology, self care

The reason why I was in classes

It’s been a little less than two weeks since classes have ended, and I’m noticing warning signs that I’m headed into a depression. Though, truthfully — at an early stage, who can tell? It might be a number of other things.

To be honest, though, I feel like my OCD is going into overdrive, and that’s why my mood is collapsing. I need to be actually making things, or doing something to occupy my mind, to tone down the paranoia (I wouldn’t be surprised if my amygdala were responsible [I wonder how ironic it is to be angry at one’s own amygdala] but I don’t really know).

I mean, there’s, “appropriately concerned,” and then there’s, “overtly paranoid.” In the middle of a surge in the middle of a pandemic, from the inside of a mind that has had to deal with obsessive thoughts around contamination for the last 26 years or so, which for a long time have felt normal (though questionable enough now to voice)…it can be hard to really understand the difference between appropriate concern and irrational hyper-concern.

I would think people would say that it isn’t possible to be too concerned: but trust me, it is. When you wash your hands to the point of their cracking and bleeding so that they no longer form a barrier against the thing you’re scared of touching, that’s overdoing it.

I’m at the point where I’m pretty certain that I would not be functional in a job right now, and my Vocational program is an unwelcome intrusion in my life. I’m having a hard enough time dealing with things coming into the house, when I’m not even the main person touching those things. I’m having a hard time touching fabric (and letting that fabric touch other fabric) which has last touched another human besides myself, two weeks ago. Can I then safely put any of that up to my face and breathe through it? We’re talking about viral half-lives, not viral extinctions.

This is not…well…I guess I can understand now why this illness alone qualifies me as disabled.

It doesn’t help, though, when there is some validity to the paranoia, and my paranoia in fact may help keep me alive (which is likely the reason it still exists in humans). That doesn’t mean it’s easy to live with, or that it isn’t instigating other mental disorders like depression. Anxiety — let alone constant anxiety — can do that.

I’m thinking I need to be doing something — anything (that isn’t drugs or eating or sodas or shopping sprees…or, sleep) — to be dealing with this. Even video games might be a step up, though I question how much a certain favorite game is going to alleviate the pain. :) Somehow, being trapped in a constantly morphing prison full of death doesn’t sound like wholesome fare when I’m feeling like this. Kudos if you know what game I’m talking about.

Of course, though: I was supposed to exercise earlier, and just didn’t. I got involved in something else. I did take Vitamins B-Complex and D, however…which should help. (I’ll take them again, tomorrow.) So should actually getting some sleep…it’s 12:50 AM here, at the moment, though I got out of bed sometime around 1:30 PM, if my memory’s correct.

Yeah, maybe tomorrow…I’ll make a point out of working with the beads (not the masks, unless I’m really OK with it) and getting some exercise and taking a shower. Even though I don’t really…feel like exercising. But that’s probably normal, when you haven’t exercised in weeks. My weight has been edging up due to inactivity and my medications. If I can consistently hold to 5 or 6 lbs. below my current weight, average — the weight I was at, at the beginning of lockdown — that would at least be a start. (I tend to set my goals too high, and then get demoralized and never even really try to reach them.)

Or maybe I should just designate a time to work out and stretch and get my heart rate up — and shower — every other day or so, without worrying about the weight component. The issue is that I work out and then crave sugar. That worked when I had a 20-year-old metabolism; not so much, now. Somehow I don’t think that eating the equivalent of two dinners, after working out and walking everywhere, is going to fly, now.

Of course…no, I haven’t tried walking everywhere…but there’s nowhere to walk to for any purpose, around here. It helps to walk when there are, you know, things within walking distance…but such is not the case at this point.

And, I suppose, it is possible that we’ll all make it through this, alive. It’s telling that I never even thought of that, until just now…

career, psychology, self care, work, writing

Loneliness? Withdrawal.

There are a lot of things I could write about. The question is, what do I write about? What do I feel safe putting out into the world, at this point, which isn’t time-sensitive? Or, which wouldn’t put myself, my property, my employability, or my family at further risk? HA HA! you say. HA. HA.

I mean, there’s a lot I could write. Whether it’s self-serving to broadcast it or not, is another question. And actually, when I look at it that way, it’s obviously safer not to mention anything. So why this drive to do so?

Actual loss. Fear of further loss.

I suppose it’s obvious that I’m feeling a bit isolated, although I do still have my family. I just am worried that everything I have and have built will be taken from me. In reality, I have one thing that has already been taken, and that is my work and my income.

There have also been a lot of people dying recently, which hasn’t helped. I lost two of my older relatives within the last several months (I can’t remember when).

Right now we’re in a severe weather event…meaning my possessions (which I would use to further gain an income) are at stake. And if any of us get sick, I could lose one or both of my parents. That would likely mean either dealing with relatives (which I don’t want to do, I’m sure you can understand), or moving out-of-state to a place where floods are normal and I may only be able to get a job in which I can’t avoid feeling prostituted.

They say I don’t, “like people.”

I’m not a, “people person.” M told me this, today, and I realized that I have no idea what it is to, “like people.” I didn’t know that I didn’t, “like people,” because I didn’t know what, “liking people,” meant. I still don’t know what, “liking people,” feels like. I can’t conceptualize it, or its motivations. That’s probably me being on the “Spectrum”, though.

Yes, I realize there is more than one, “Spectrum.” I’m talking about high-functioning Autism. I know I am on that Spectrum, but not to the degree that I would be considered, “Autistic.” I was evaluated and told I had nothing to gain from a diagnosis because I had already aged out of all the early interventions that would help. That is, a diagnosis would just be a stigma to me with no benefit. (Of course, that’s before I entered my Vocational Program, which may have done better to heed a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder…)

M and I also spoke about how I internalized **** that happened at work (that I still remember), and I know I don’t know how not to internalize it. I don’t know how I can live with just ignoring hostility and disrespect. When, “no,” is seen to mean, “you’re not trying hard enough, wheedle some more,” instead of, “NO. Stop it and leave me alone.”

And I know that I can be openly aggressive, when people persist in attempting to push my boundaries because I say, “No,” and they want to force, “Yes” (which brings up trauma around sexual harassment)…though I’m not sure how to value my aggression. On one hand, I’m standing up for myself when my messages are rejected as though I said nothing (or worse than nothing); on another, getting sued or losing my job every time a misogynist ***** comes along, wouldn’t be the best thing?

And then there’s the question of whether I should grit my teeth and try and be polite (and be dishonest to be polite, which has not been my way) when my emotions honestly make me want to do much worse (and wish I was a 240-pound 6-foot-plus man so I could do so).

But these guys (they’re almost all guys) can’t see the warning signs. Maybe they think no one they categorize as a woman can or should ever get angry, let alone at them, and they assume from visual pattern-matching that I’m a (heterosexual, cisgender) woman. Or, as they would put it, “girl.” Which can make me angry, depending on the level of respect and self-definition they afford to people they see as, “girls,” which usually isn’t a lot.

So. No service jobs.

Do what I …love?

M wants me to find what I love to do and then do it, regardless of how much income it pulls in. And not focus on my shortcomings, because it is not in my nature to be a good social services worker. Which is, you know, never the reason I started working at the Library.

Right now, I’m thinking: Beadwork and Writing. And maybe Cataloging or Metadata Librarianship, or Taxonomy development. Maybe later, Translation. Maybe also later: Web Development.

I’ve come to what feels right (at least in theory) about what to do with the Creative Writing tangent. I’m not going to hide my work until I have a full manuscript (to try and sell First Publication Rights to a Publishing House). I’ll be developing this in a mixture of online and offline work, with the possibility of self-publishing and Web distribution, later.

I think that doing things that way will maximize the benefits I’d accrue, and the accountability to do the work. What I wouldn’t accrue would be in-house professional editing, academic prestige, and help with marketing and distribution. (But hey: I’ve seen some pretty interesting self-published books.)

The question is also, distribution to where, when it seems most book sales take place online now, and work is increasingly becoming digital in nature. Also: editors can be hired, and making a name for myself online before fully entering the stage, is marketing.

Digital Publishing, Print-On-Demand. Financial Models.

There is a metadata schema (TEI, or Text Encoding Initiative), which I could use to code an electronic text in XML. Doing that would give me practice in coding (and navigating) TEI-XML using an XML editor and XPath.

Of course, how to convert XML to HTML is something I don’t yet know how to do; I only know that it’s possible using XSLT. Neither do I see any advantage or efficiency to this, other than teaching myself XSLT, XPath, and TEI-XML. I mean, I might as well hard-code in HTML, to begin with.

I also see that Kindle doesn’t support TEI; I’d likely have to then convert my HTML into a proprietary format of Amazon’s. Or import a DOCX. That’s if I want my work to be able to be purchased and read on Kindle. On the other hand, nothing says that I have to use Word to develop the text; just to submit it — if I go that route. My issue is suspected ugly code after conversion.

That’s only if I want to take payment for the download. Which isn’t my only financial model, but it probably is the one which, along with Print-On-Demand, would generate the most income. And income is nice, for work done.

And then, POD may outlast any digital encoding scheme. I probably would also only have to submit a DOCX for that, as well. I could use InDesign, but it’s probably not needed or expected. I mean, I wouldn’t be doing any fancy formatting.

There’s also the option of just posting at WordPress.com for free public access + the sale of extra materials (tangential short stories, illustrations). The site templates are pretty awesome on my tablet, and it would be easier to keep it updated, as the host takes care of the back-end maintenance. The major drawback is sanitization and censorship, plus the cost to remove the ads…none of which I would like to engage in. I mean, I have to bleep myself regularly here. It’s a big reason I moved offline.

I believe this is not an issue if I’m self-hosted. However…then I have to be a Full-Stack Developer plus being a Web Content Producer. I know; I’ve done it.

Yeah, so…write the thing first, right? ;D

career, LIS, portfolio, psychology, self care, technology

Life without obsessions or compulsions?

I think I’m new to this.

We have moved into Week 9 in my class…not a huge deal, but it reminds me that there are only 5 weeks after this, left in the semester! It’s time to start thinking about next semester.

I’ve also found that it is still possible for me to take a Virtual Internship even though I’ve already graduated: one of the articles I’ve just read (extracurricular) says that as much or more could be learned through internships and practicums, as through classes. I may want to join my Alumni Association to keep access to the job search board, as well…but I’ll get to that, when it’s time.

I have about a month and a half to decide if I want to take a class on XML in the Spring…or hold out and try a private course, again. I’ve located one which looks like it will fit my needs…if it doesn’t, I know a place that gives an XML course every Fall. However: I can take up to 11 more units, there…maybe I want to save them for PHP, JQuery, or Drupal, and go ahead and do XSLT/XQuery, privately. Then I can re-take it in the Fall at the University, if I need to.

Also, I found a book on XML/XSLT/XQuery, which I can use to boost my skills. I haven’t read it yet, but the last book I read of the series (on Linked Data) was very understandable, and the branch of my association which puts them out…has a very good reputation.

Putting that all together: that looks good, actually. So I review over the winter, re-take XSLT/XQuery in Spring, and get the book on XSLT/XQuery for practice, afterward. For now, I can see what I can do about an Internship…and take some lessons on JavaScript. (It probably also wouldn’t hurt to review my Relational Database textbooks.)

After Spring, I can look at PHP, JQuery, and Drupal; though those aren’t skills as much in demand for my targeted positions. XSLT, though, it looks like I’ll have to learn (at some time — if I want to become a Metadata Librarian, which is what Cataloging Librarianship is turning into).

I think the major thing holding me back is frustration at having to use my, “slow mind,” as versus my, “fast mind.” I’m used to things being easy to scan and read — I can skip over information and my mind will close the gap — and Programming…really requires me to slow down and parse things as I come across them. I have to stop and think about what each symbol or nested tag means, that is…and reading in English is usually so easy for me that I don’t have to do that.

(It is, however, not easy when you’re reading subordinate clause after subordinate clause after subordinate clause…and then you start to think, “what am I looking at?” and you’re looking at an extremely complicated sentence. Maybe I should try and rephrase the lectures, or something.)

Reading in Spanish and Japanese is usually so easy for me that I don’t have to do that, and I’m not particularly great at either of those two other languages, at this point. However, at least I can decipher parts of the code. Whereas when I see something like //@lang, I have to actively remember what those symbols mean, and put together what they mean, in context with each other. That can be frustrating, when you’re expecting to do better (even though you only saw this code for the first time, six days ago).

It’s not easy, although W3Schools makes it look easy. And I’ve found out that maybe it actually is not best to depend on my instructor explaining things to me. I know how to find information on my own, that is; and some of it is clearer than the lecture.

I really…need to figure out what to do about these internships, though! Like, do I need to sign up for the Internship course, pay the tuition, and then work for free for 14 weeks (in exchange for experience)? You know?

Well, anyway: I can contact my Vocational team about that. I’ll need to get it set up by the end of the year, regardless.

And that means, to get the freakin’ Portfolio back online, before someone asks to see it.

I can do that. I can actually do that, soon. And for now, it’s a finite project.

Alright.

The title of this post relates to the fact that although I have been washing my hands more than normal, I believe my other obsessions are becoming less dominant. Thus, I could write, but I don’t have to write; I could make jewelry, but I don’t have to; I could paint or draw…but don’t have to. I forget the last day I was in a Japanese language lesson, or at which I sewed anything. Aside from these things, I realize that I don’t totally know what to do with myself when I have a lot of free time, and nothing that I’ve zeroed in on to do now, now, now, now.

They’re all parts of me, but they don’t define me.

Having choices is not necessarily the easiest thing, eh?

psychology, self care, writing

It’s OK.

It’s been a little over a week since I wrote here last, and more than that since I did what I did last night, and got a proper night’s sleep. Now, I’m awake…the sky is blue (! how long has it been since that happened?! or, well, since I’ve been awake to experience it), and I’m a little lost as to what to do with myself.

So, I’ve turned to my blog. :) Of course, after a week or so of messed-up sleep, I haven’t wanted first to turn back to my studies. I have, however, wanted to get back to my beadwork…

…and I’m hoping that the Messiah-complex that I might have been experiencing (not to self-diagnose, but it sounds familiar [to a point]), is wearing thin. I’ve reached the point of realizing that everyone’s on their own journey, not just me; that my story is one of innumerable stories not being told. Which makes me curious…

But that also means that I don’t necessarily…have to write down my experiences. I still can, but there is no obligation or mandate for me to do so. I mean, it’s possibly actually okay for me to do what I want to do, with my life.

It’s probably a good sign, psychologically speaking, that I’ve reached this point.

Maybe I’ll bead. :)

psychology, spirituality, writing

Stumbling into dystopia

Not to be, well — depressing — but I can feel depression setting in.

I’ve noticed an increase in my symptoms recently, particularly where it comes to difficulty concentrating, the ability to sleep, depressed mood, paranoia, heightened “spiritual” content to my thoughts, and catastrophic and magical thinking.

Of course, from inside, these all appear understandable, given the situation. Hey — they may appear understandable from outside. The issue is that things are bad, and my mind is making them worse. By doing things like making me think I have a calling as a writer and a duty to share my perspective…even if that leads to bad consequences for me. Because this is bigger than me, isn’t it?

The issue is, how much bigger? Are we dealing with local stupidity and greed and craziness, or is this a Universal conflict between good and evil? And maybe it’s not even just two groups. Maybe it’s a system of spirits, and I happen to be a member of a group associated with Creation (and, apparently, expression and language). And we have here beings who don’t care about the continuation of life on this planet; who don’t care about other humans; who don’t care about anyone but themselves and their own accumulation of wealth and power. If this is not Evil, what is Evil?

Today it’s actually slightly cooler outside (at the moment) than it is inside, which is more than I can say for the past three days. Because of us, this planet is becoming a Hell. And we don’t know how much time we have to change that, left (if we have any, at all; we don’t know, but the best we can do is not give up) — at least if you’re looking at things like climate, “tipping points,” such as the point at which the permafrost melts and trapped methane gas is released into the atmosphere…which is a 25x stronger greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

And what then, is supposed to happen to cities like San Francisco or Honolulu, when the Antarctic and/or Greenland ice shelves fail and melt? If the West Antarctic Ice Sheet fails, the global sea level could rise by ten feet.

I’ve been getting used to being active at night, due to the heat in the daytime…meaning, today, that I got out of bed after 4 PM to eat dinner as my first meal, instead of at 9 AM for breakfast (when my alarm went off). Of course, part of this is bad synchronization of my medication to my bedtime: I took one medication (a sedating one) after midnight, instead of 9 PM; and I know that when I do that, it predisposes me to wake in the late afternoon or early evening. Even if I do wake up at a reasonable time before then, my body just wants to go back to bed, where I fall asleep. For hours.

Not to mention that I couldn’t fall asleep until after 2:30 AM. Just, could not.

Still, the lack of daylight — which has been going on for days, as we couldn’t vent the windows to cool down the house, due to the smoke from the multiple fires around the state — has an effect on me. I’m thinking it has an effect on everyone.

I’ve been doing a fair amount of writing…and not much else, except reading for my class and studying Japanese language (mostly, at this point, writing). I haven’t been posting my writing online because I’m having issues with paranoia, which — given the current climate, and not just the literal one — could be justified.

Oppressive, is the word. This climate is oppressive, and writing — in my case — is for the expression of thoughts that may not be able to be easily spoken. There are good reasons they can’t be easily spoken.

I’m also not sure to what extent re-engaging with fiction, or my actual thoughts (as unrealistic and idiosyncratic as those may be), is affecting this. Nor do I know whether the thoughts are symptomatic of the disease, or whether they’re driving it. I’m not sure if even entertaining my thoughts are leading to a decrease in my mental health.

Although, it is good to be able to get those thoughts out, so that they don’t just fester in my subconscious (or unconscious). At the same time, I think just being in this country at this moment is scary. But if we make change, we’ll have to make it together. One person can’t do it, alone.

I know I’m not the only one going through this. I’ve been dealing with my class where we were supposed to split up into groups of 4 or 5 for our Final Projects, by tonight. Over 1/3 of the people in the class still have not hooked up with anyone. Seriously???

I’m also glad that I know at this point that grades aren’t the most important part of life, but Withdrawing is not currently an option for me. Even if it was, I question whether it would be the best route: I may be becoming depressed because I don’t have enough to do. If I Withdrew, something worse for my life than failing the course, would have to have happened. And there’s a lot that is worse than failing a stinkin’ course.

Anyway. I’m getting kind of weary of this. And I’m not the only one. I can tell from the number of people I see congregating, maskless. The issue we have here — the biggest one — seems to be that people can’t act for the good of society writ large. “If masks will protect everyone else but not me specifically, why should I wear one?” they ask. Because that, “everyone else,” indirectly includes you. But people don’t get that, and I get the feeling that they don’t care about other people’s lives, either.

It’s a pretty sad state when your neighbors don’t care if you live or die. It’s possibly sadder if they don’t even care if they live or die. Faith is not meant to make a person lazy.

I do know that we here in California likely only have another month of heat to worry about (November comes after October, after all)…but then comes flu season. Which — if you look at it, maybe won’t be so bad if people are keeping away from each other, and we’re still able to maintain good hygiene. There is fatigue to be factored in there, however. We’ve been at this for seven months, now.

…And, the little I’ve read, says to brace for another year of this — that it will be likely around mid-2021 by the time we get a safe and widely available vaccine.

So we have to, essentially, survive another year. Alright.

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…

creative writing, personal, philosophy, psychology, self care, writing

Emotional honesty.

In my last post, I intended to write about, “Fear“…however, I ran way off topic. I realize now that it’s likely people didn’t know to differentiate this piece from the storyline of “Prologue“: they’re two separate but (for now) linked projects. The voice is different; the narrators are either different people, or the same person of different age; and the stories are different. I’ve just been attempting to cohere them into one whole (in order to get to work on anything). Maybe that’s a wrong approach. (They don’t even have to be in the same world.)

In actuality, “Fear,” is based further into this reality than the other story — even though this project might appreciate some abstraction and worldbuilding, as the players are fairly neutral but can be easily misunderstood if sticking too close to reality, or mythos from within a shared reality. There’s also the fact that I don’t think my own internal world is really represented so much, in Literature (or Science Fiction/Fantasy), but I can’t be sure, as I haven’t been an avid reader of Fiction for a very long time. I would call, “Fear,” an instance of Creative Nonfiction…for now.

My own scenario which was in the back of my head while writing, “Fear,” doesn’t correspond with any reality I’ve met outside of myself, so far (though it was inspired by a book I read as a child, called Anpao: An American Indian Odyssey, which I believe from a quick search, was written by Jamake Highwater). Within the book, the main character throws a hoop into the air and splits himself into two selves, then re-merges, later. (He didn’t really have a choice about it.)

For some reason, that had an impact on me, as a kid.

I also majored in Creative Writing as an Undergraduate, and so I know how to loosen the reins in order to allow (what feels like) freedom of expression, which merges into Art (when you really let the reins loose, and stop even trying to cling to shared reality). This, within reason (and EULAs). And also with some damage to the popular notion of my character, quite possibly. :) But it’s really, really hard to take risks in one’s writing if one is worried about how others will see them. The thing about being a Fiction author is that there’s the option to keep everyone guessing as to where that last piece came from… ;)

In writing, “Fear”…it’s very interesting what occurred. I found myself being able to write with emotional honesty without needing verifiable facts with which to structure and defend my arguments. That is, I can be emotionally honest and open to vulnerability (this is useful; whether it is intelligent, is another question) without being factually honest (except where it comes to the possibility of libel — which is another reason not to be factually honest). I can put forth crazy suppositions about how things are working, even if I know them not to be true (or, alternately, just don’t know them to be true), and it’s actually OK — because it’s Fiction! No one expects it to be real (or possibly, even defensible. Of course, if you go too far that way, you get into farce — or, propaganda).

That right there…could be a workable formula, for me, of Fiction writing. As versus, say, trying to prop up and support my own, “faith,” which is the largest flaw I’ve seen in the fictions (and reading habits) of others. It seems that when people read to support their faith (only), they intend to extend their provisional beliefs which they enter into in their reading, beyond themselves and into the real world.

That is, I’ve met people who wanted to live within the illusions of books. I’m not sure how workable (or healthy), that is. Although, I can understand it.

(I say, as I wear my ceramic ring. Actually, now that I look at it: this ring is black ceramic; black is symbolic of Earth, and the ring itself is made of Earth [zirconia]. Maybe it could symbolize, “grounding,” for me, as well as being my reminder of commitment? I like that!)

If I can keep some kind of boundary going between reality and fantasy, it’s likely that working with this thread could be very fruitful (and enjoyable/cathartic). It’s kind of my take on (what I think) Method Acting (must be like). :) As I wrote in my journal yesterday (Pink A5, 121): “The practice of writing fiction allows one to take on provisional beliefs during the period of that writing, and slough them off upon re-entering communal, or shared, reality.”

Due to my ability to seriously enter into these provisional realities…I might actually make a good author of paranormal/psychological thrillers. I mean, seriously. I would just need to be able to ground myself, outside of that. It’s extremely possible that I could do that with my art (particularly, painting; and within that, painting abstracts — at least, for now. Maybe I’ll eventually find a preferred subject).

After all, I’m well aware that my mind is likely my most dangerous enemy: what else knows how to get to you and is always with you? Making art derails its processes, for me (though I know it doesn’t do that, for everyone). I think that the freedom inherent in Art (for me) does this, though I’m not entirely sure what separates myself from people who compulsively draw the same thing over and over.

But that “emotional reality” without “verifiable reality” part of the equation is something I hadn’t really…understood, before. The last major time I wrote fiction, I was in Undergrad, about 15 years ago. I really didn’t understand it, then; and there’s value in admitting that now, because I get to look back on it with more experience (if I allow myself to do so). If I admit to myself that I didn’t understand, that means there’s more to learn. And, allowing myself to believe there’s more to learn, paradoxically means I gain the ability to find it.